Norton Children’s Hospital is the pediatric teaching hospital for the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Our physicians have expertise in their fields and are training the next generation of pediatric specialists.
We’ll determine the cause of your child’s migraine headaches and create a treatment plan that minimizes risk, so your child can get back to being a kid again.
Migraine headaches can affect children of all ages and each child differently. They can have a significant impact on quality of life.
Typically, migraines are throbbing or pounding headaches and may be associated with nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and sound sensitivity. The pain can be located in one part of the head or involve the whole head.
Sometimes migraines cause visual distrubances, called auras. These may be described as seeing waves of light, blurred vision or flashes of light. Migraines also may be accompanied by dizziness or numbness and tingling.
Migraines rarely are associated with a serious or life-threatening disease, such as infection or stroke. Reasons to seek immediate evaluation by a doctor or emergency room include:
- Thunderclap headache – A headache that is severe within a few minutes of its onset
- Positional headache – A headache that changes significantly depending on whether the child is lying down or standing up
- Headache that starts after a trauma or whiplash (sometimes as minor as a sneeze or cough)
- Headache that wakes the child from sleep at night
- Headache associated with other symptoms, such as weight loss, fever or rash
- Headache with neurological symptoms that affect a part of the body, such as weakness or paralysis
- Changes in thinking or speech during a headache
The diagnosis of a migraine headache is based on the your child’s symptoms and health history. Blood tests and brain scans do not help to diagnose a migraine.
Team members may order additional tests for your child if there are features of the headache that raise concerns for a different type of headache.
A brain MRI or a lumbar puncture can evaluate fluid pressure within the head and evaluate for blood or infection within the spinal fluid. Your doctor may request an ophthalmologic examination to take a closer look at your child’s eyes.
Our team can recommend many options to help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
Recommended efforts include getting plenty of regular sleep, eating meals at regular times without skipping meals, exercising or participating in active playing for at least 30 minutes each day, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding triggers such as caffeine.
A helpful practice is for you and your child to keep a migraine diary that can assist in identifying other possible triggers or patterns to the headaches. Learning how to manage stress through techniques such as biofeedback and controlled breathing can be helpful as well.
Our physicians may discuss different medication strategies with you, including ways to prevent migraines and ways to treat a migraine when it is occurring, called acute therapies.
Acute therapies typically include NSAID medications (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) or triptan medications. It is important that these are not taken too often, as it could result in worsening of headaches. If indicated, preventive medications, or medications that are taken daily in order to reduce the severity and frequency of headaches, may be prescribed.
Our team also performs acupuncture to treat headaches.
Rarely, if a migraine does not stop on its own, the child may require more aggressive treatments in the hospital.
Our multidisciplinary team, including neurologists and psychologists, will evaluate your child at regular visits to monitor his or her migraines and quality of life.