What if it happens every few weeks? Could it be migraine? Is it possible for children to get migraine? When I was a fourth grade teacher in Massachusetts, I was first exposed to migraine in children. Betsy, nine years old, was my first encounter with migraine in children. Betsy was a beautiful child, but her headaches prevented her from making friends and academic progress. Betsy claimed that she suffered from migraines as a child.
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Betsy’s mother, a loving mother, assured me that her attacks were real. But, I was skeptical because they always coincided in my mind with things Betsy didn’t like. Betsy’s behavior during attacks was even more suspicious. She started with plausible head-holding and crying. She begged her mother to bring her home. Her act was always outrageous. Betsy looked around the room to make sure she was paying attention. She shook her head violently side to side.
She shook her head and turned on the waterworks, always keeping an eye on her audience. Betsy moaned in pain when her mother arrived. Her mother pulled down the curtain and wrapped Betsy in her arms before escorting her out of the room. Although I have never been able to confirm that Betsy had migraine in children, I was able to verify that the condition is real. It is called “migraine among children”, even though it only affects one child.
People of all ages, social class, races, and cultures can suffer from migraine. Migraine is most common between the ages of 20 and 50. However, migraine can also affect children younger than that. Migraine in children is a real condition that is often misdiagnosed as a “headache excuse” to avoid unpleasant tasks. Let me tell you seven facts. Migraine is a common condition in families.
Migraine can affect children as young as three years old. Migraine in children starts earlier in boys than it does in girls. Boys are affected up to 6 years earlier than girls, or slightly more so than girls. At elementary school level, 10 percent suffer migraine in children. Secondary school is where migraines are more common. Migraines affect 20-30% of young girls and 10-20% in young men. We need to be aware that your daughter may have migraines in children and not just avoid a test.
What are the signs of migraine in children?
- PAIN: Migraine in children can be very severe and cause severe headaches. Your daughter will likely report pain in her forehead or the middle of her head rather than one side.
- PALLOR: Migraine in children can cause symptoms such as a pale appearance and a feeling of weakness. The eyes may have dark circles.
- QUIETNESS: A child with migraines in children will be very quiet. It may be difficult to get your child to say anything beyond “My head hurts.” He or she will choose to lie in aching silence or sit.
- STILLNESS: Children with migraines don’t want to move any part, unlike Betsy in class. They don’t want to shake their heads. Do not suspect children suffering from migraine if a headache is followed by running off to play.
- NAUSEA: If you’re taking notes, we’re now on the fifth symptom. Your child might feel sick to their stomach. Your child may feel sick and not want to eat.
- ABDOMINAL PEAIN: The main symptoms of migraine in children younger than 5 years old are abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
- VISUAL DISTURBANCES – Some children experience vision changes during an attack of migraine. They might have blurred vision, flashes or zigzag patterns before their eyes.
- PHOTOPHOTOPHOBIA – Your child might complain about the brightness of the light and want to be in a dark place. Photophobia is a light sensitivity that can be referred to by those who want to sound knowledgeable.
- PHONOPHOBIA – Moving on to the eighth symptom, children with migraine may hold their ears or complain that they are being talked to too loudly. Instead of turning up the TV volume, they turn it down. This is sound sensitivity also known as Phonophobia.
- OSMOPHOBIA – Migraine can sometimes lead to sensitivity to the smells in children. Even if you don’t cook liver-and-onions for your child, they may complain about the smell of their dinner. Osmophobia is the technical name for smell sensitivity.
- MOTION SICKNESS – Children who have migraines are more likely to develop travel sickness. Even if the sufferer is not in a vehicle they may feel dizziness.
- CONFUSION: This is the last symptom that we will examine. If your child is experiencing migraine in children, confusion and difficulty concentrating are likely.