Headaches and Migraines in Children

kids headache image 

If your child has headaches or is experiencing migraines, our multidisciplinary neurosciences team can help. Because kids may have a hard time describing pain, we can help determine what else may be happening.

Headaches can be a symptom of something else just as often as they are a condition themselves. The causes are many: lack of sleep, dehydration, too much caffeine or screen time, a virus, allergies, a brain cyst—and the list goes on.

Although most headaches are not cause for concern, those that include weakness, double vision, stiff neck, fever, vomiting, coordination problems, unusual sleepiness or lethargy may require our help. 

Our team of pediatric neurologists, pain psychologists and neurosurgeons are experienced in managing headaches and migraines in children. They will work with your family to identify triggers and develop a plan to treat them, including possible lifestyle changes, medication for nausea or pain, or surgical options so your child can enjoy a normal, healthy life.

Migraines are a common form of recurring headaches. They cause intense throbbing in a particular area of the head and can be debilitating, lasting from hours to several days. Dr. Steven DeRoos, a pediatric neurologist with Spectrum Health Medical Group, talks about causes and treatment of migraine headaches.

 

Treatments for Headaches and Migraines in Children

Getting your child help for his or her recurring headaches or migraines is an important first step. Our pediatric neurologists, pain psychologists and neurosurgeons will work with your family to identify possible triggers so you can avoid them.

A pediatric migraine disability assessment or PedMIDAS evaluation is one of the first things that our medical experts will discuss with you and your child. We suggest you print and complete this brief questionnaire about your child’s headaches. It can be completed by parents or guardians, but all answers should be confirmed by the child. This six question assessment has been tested and validated for children ages 4 to 18. Topics include the impact of headaches on school performance, on activities at home and in social/sports situations. 

The treatment for your child’s headache will depend on the cause. We will create a personalized plan to help your child reduce or eliminate his or her headaches and address other symptoms like pain and nausea. This may include lifestyle changes, medication or even surgery.

Remember, even at-home treatments like rest, acetaminophen or ibuprofen should be approved by a pediatrician. (Never give aspirin to kids, as it can cause life-threatening Reye’s syndrome.) Our specialists may also run tests to rule out more serious causes and pinpoint the most effective forms of relief.

Biofeedback
Biofeedback helps your child recognize the body's responses to headache, such as breathing, pulse, heart rate, temperature and brain activity. He or she can then release and control the tension that's causing a headache.

Botox
Botox may help children and teens with chronic migraines.

Concussion and Post-Traumatic Headache Care
Concussions and mild traumatic brain injury are common in children. Both often result in a headache. While most kids recover from a concussion in one to two weeks, some develop symptoms that can last longer—and we can help.

CT and PET Scans
Computerized Tomography (CT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging scans can rule out certain causes for headaches. They also help your pediatric neurologist monitor your child's brain function.

Pain Relievers
Many of the pain relievers used to treat adult headaches can be used in smaller doses to treat headaches in children and adolescents. Do not give aspirin to children.

Vision Exam
An eye exam not only checks vision, it also assesses the health of the eye, retina, optic nerve and eye alignment. It can also detect whether both eyes work together properly. The pupils may also be dilated, so bring a pair of sunglasses for the ride home.

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