Migraine is a common health condition, affecting around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men. They usually begin in early adulthood. They are much more than simply bad headaches, but rather are a neurological disorder, considered to be one of the more common disorders of the nervous system (1).
Children and young adults also suffer from migranes and about 50% of these children will experience their first migraine before age 12. Symptoms of migraines in children and teenagers can be different, but the headache is just as disabling. Symptoms in children include (2):
- Stomach pains
- mood changes.
feeling sick and car sickness can be a migrane indicator in young children
Headaches can come on very suddenly and last less than 1 hour
Symptoms that are common to both adults and children include:
- visual disturbances,
- sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell.
Up to 10 percent of children are experiencing debilitating migraine headaches that impact their school work. The good news is that recent research has found that simple home strategies can be as effective as drugs, but with no dangerous and adverse side effects. Use these strategies to prevent your and also your child’s migraines.
In a recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), scientists discovered that children responded well to placebos in migraine prevention.
The researchers compared the effectiveness of two commonly used medications to prevent migraine headaches used in children and adults, against a placebo. The results showed that the medications were not more effective than the placebo, and in addition the children had to cope with the side effects from the drugs .
So what strategies can we and our children use to avoid migraine?
Firstly, it is important to reduce the triggers that makes migraine headaches more likely:
- Weather: Changes in the weather and pressure
- Depression commonly experienced in the teen years, can be triggered by hormonal changes or situational stress, or may run in the family.
Eating: either eating too much food or skipping a meal can trigger a migraine in a child or adolescent.
Dehydration: especially highly active children and during warm months of year. Drink until the urine is a light straw color. You might need to drink water during and/or between all classes to maintain hydration
Foods that trigger migraines include nuts, chocolate, alcohol, aged cheese, shellfish, hot dogs, lunch meats, foods with nitrates and anything with Monosodium glutamate (MSG). This is a flavor enhancer added to thousands of foods you and your family regularly eat. It’s also one of the worst food additives on the market. Remove these from your childrens foods.
Stress: events that cause any stress, both good and bad in your life. Strategies to relax and stay calm, will help to reduce the risk of the headache.
Hormonal changes, such as menstruation. During this time it is even more impornat to reduce the others triggers.
Sleep: either lack of sleep or too much sleep may disrupt hormonal patterns and trigger a migraine. Try to get eight hours of quality sleep each night.
Computer lights. computer screens and mobile devices may trigger headaches. Reduce the time in front of digital devices and look up from the screen every couple of minutes to relax the eyes.
Sudden physical exercise: although it can trigger a migraine, consistent exercise will help to reduce the number of migraines and improve the fitness.
Cognitive Behavoural Therapy CBT turns out to work very effectively than migrane drugs on adults and even more so for children – and of course without the side effects. You can look up for a free introduction here
Yes, I know, on the one hand it is quite puzzeling that there is something called the Placebo effect, but one should never under-estimate the mind!
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