Recurring Migraine Headache in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Migraines are painful, throbbing headaches. They often start on one side of the head. They may cause nausea and vomiting and make your child sensitive to light, sound, or smell. Some children have only a few migraines throughout life. Others have them as often as several times a month.

You want to try to reduce the number of migraines your child has and relieve the symptoms. Even with treatment, your child may continue to have migraines. You play an important role in dealing with your child's headaches. Work on avoiding things that seem to trigger your child's migraines. When your child feels a headache coming on, act quickly to stop it before it gets worse.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child rest in a quiet, dark room until the headache is gone. Have your child close his or her eyes and try to relax or go to sleep. Do not let your child watch TV or read.
  • Put a cold, moist cloth or cold pack on the painful area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the cold pack and your child's skin.
  • Gently massage your child's neck and shoulders.
  • Give your child medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with the medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.

To prevent migraines

  • Keep a headache diary so you can figure out what triggers your child's headaches. Avoiding triggers may help your child prevent headaches. Record when each headache began, how long it lasted, and what the pain was like. Use words like throbbing, aching, stabbing, or dull. Write down any other symptoms your child had with the headache. These may include nausea, flashing lights or dark spots, or sensitivity to bright light or loud noise. Note if the headache occurred near your child's period. List anything that might have triggered the headache. Triggers may include certain foods, such as chocolate or cheese. Odours, smoke, bright light, stress, or lack of sleep may also trigger the headache.
  • If your doctor has prescribed medicine for your child's migraines, give it as directed. Your child may have medicine to take only when he or she gets a migraine and medicine to take all the time to help prevent migraines.
    • If your doctor has prescribed medicine for when your child gets a headache, give it at the first sign of a migraine, unless your doctor has given you other instructions.
    • If your doctor has prescribed medicine to prevent migraines, give it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with the medicine.
  • Help your child find healthy ways to deal with stress. Migraines are most common during or right after stressful times. Have your child take time to relax before and after he or she does something that has caused a migraine in the past.
  • Have your child try to keep his or her muscles relaxed by keeping good posture. Have your child check for tension in his or her jaw, face, neck, and shoulder muscles. Have him or her try relaxing them. When your child sits at a desk, have him or her change positions often. See that your child stretches 30 seconds each hour.
  • Make sure your child gets regular sleep and exercise.
  • Have your child eat regular meals and avoid foods and drinks that often trigger migraines. These include chocolate, aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and some additives found in foods. These include hot dogs, bacon, cold cuts, aged cheeses, and pickled foods.
  • Limit caffeine by not letting your child drink too much soda. Do not let your child quit caffeine suddenly, because that can also give your child migraines.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child develops a fever and a stiff neck.
  • Your child has new nausea and vomiting, or your child cannot keep down food or liquids.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child has a headache that does not get better within 1 or 2 days.
  • Your child's headaches get worse or happen more often.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: October 14, 2016