About 10-12% of children experience persistent headaches, and from that number, about 10% suffer from chronic migraines. Knowing how to discuss migraine attacks with your child is an important step towards helping her learn how to cope in her adult years. Here are some tips to consider when talking about pediatric migraines with your child.
Don’t assign blame
It’s important that you child understands that his headaches aren’t because of anything he or she did wrong.
While it’s true that there are certain “migraine triggers” in food and drinks that she should learn to avoid because they make a migraine headache more likely to occur, that’s not the same thing as saying that eating a slice of pizza “caused” her to have a migraine episode, or that she is to blame for her headaches.
Does your child chew gum? Stopping may help prevent migraines.
Migraines are real
Chances are good that if your son or daughter has recurrent migraines, then so do other people in your family.
Migraine disorder is a neurological condition that is most often inherited in the genes. It may help for your child to realize that he’s not alone in this, and that migraines are not a mental illness, but rather a chemical response to pain that goes “berserk” every now and then.
Migraines are treatable
There may not be a “cure” for migraines, but that doesn’t mean that your child is without options.
First and foremost, find out about natural preventive treatments that you can use to avoid the need for painkillers should a migraine headache strike. It may help to record what your child eats each day for several months, and use that information to find out if any certain foods trigger migraines. Pay attention to cured meats, hard cheeses, processed snacks, gluten, or overripe fruits.
Take the right vitamins
Oftentimes, childhood migraines can result from a deficiency in vitamin B or magnesium. Ask your doctor to recommend safe vitamins, minerals, and herbs that support neurological health for people suffering from migraines. Good ones to try are riboflavin, magnesium, coenzyme Q10, and PA-free butterbur extracts.
During a migraine attack, turn out the lights and help her relax in bed or on the couch. Keep noise down to a minimum, as bright lights and loud noises may make her headache worse.
Your child may suffer extreme nausea, head pain, stomachache and dizziness, so be prepared with a fresh towel and bucket in case she needs to vomit. Afterwards, your child may be completely wiped out and need to sleep for a long time. These are all normal symptoms of pediatric migraine.
For more information on childhood migraine headaches, see kidshealth.org.
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