Video Q & A:

Kids & Teens


How are migraines diagnosed in children?

Expert:   Lawrence C. Newman, MD, Director, The Headache Institute, Roosevelt Hospital Center »

You might not be able to tell the difference between a flu virus and a migraine attack, but doctors can. Check out this video to learn what they'll be looking for during an exam.

Transcript: When your child complains of fatigue, dizziness and RECURRENT head pain, how do you know if it’s flu, anxiety, or a migraine? Truth is, you may not be able to tell the difference, so go see your pediatrician to find out for sure. After performing a physical exam, your pediatrician will ask about HOW the headaches and other symptoms have affected your child—the frequency, the symptoms, the levels of pain. The doctor may then do a detailed neurological exam, focusing on the brain and nerve functioning. If any abnormalities, such as swollen eyes, a stiff neck, strange body sounds, weakness on one side of the body or sluggish cognitive skills, are found, it may indicate that the head pain is caused by something other than a migraine. Then, additional tests might be needed. But for almost all migraine patients, no neurological abnormalities are found, and additional tests are USUALLY not needed. If your child IS diagnosed with migraine, talk with your doctor about prevention and treatment options. Get a list of COMMON triggers, advice on keeping a migraine and food diary to identify any UNUSUAL triggers, AND ways to treat the pain when attacks flare up. Diagnosing migraines in kids can be tricky, since they can often be mistaken for other conditions. Working with your doctor is your best bet to get to the source of the issue. More »

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