Video Q & A:

Kids & Teens


How can I prevent my child or teen from having a migraine?

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

You've seen how miserable your child is during a migraine, so you obviously want to do all you can to prevent another attack. Watch this video to learn the best preventive methods.

Transcript: No one wants a kid with a migraine. Crying, vomiting, more crying. It’s painful to watch. Which is why you want to try and help your child avoid them all together. Unfortunately, for some kids, migraines are written into their genetic code. If you or other family members experience migraines, chances are they will, too. For other kids who are especially sensitive to environmental factors, things like a severe cold front or a visit to a new place, can trip the migraine switch. These kinds of environmental changes can cause chemical and electrical shifts in the brain, irritating sensitive nerves, and triggering a migraine. To REDUCE the chances of your child getting a migraine, try to steer clear of these common triggers. Household troublemakers include bright, fluorescent or flickering lights, and computer screens and TVs. Try to reduce exposure and limit screen time, particularly in preschoolers. Strong odors, from cleaners or air fresheners, and even cooking smells can also cause problems. They activate nerve cells in the nose, stimulating a neural network associated with head pain. Intense physical activity can lead to over-stimulation. Experts suggest building in regular time-outs or rest periods during play to avoid this trigger – so still get out there and play, just take breaks every now and then. Minor head trauma, such as getting hit in the head with a ball or falling, may also set off a migraine attack…but this trigger may be less possible to avoid. You’ll also want to make sure your child is getting enough sleep and eating regularly, avoiding any known FOOD TRIGGERS. Yes, some foods can trigger migraines. The most common food triggers are processed meats such as hot dogs, bologna or pepperoni, aged and processed cheeses, dried fruits like raisins, and even some food colorings. Keeping a migraine diary that tracks what your child is exposed to and the foods that are eaten around the time a migraine kicks in can help identify triggers. Then you can try to eliminate them from your environment. Some of the most difficult migraine triggers to avoid are stress, anxiety, and depression. So help your child sort out problems as they come up, schedule in time for fun, and be vigilant about good health. A happy, healthy child may have fewer migraines. More »

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