A migraine is a type of headache characterized by severe throbbing pain on one side of the head accompanied by secondary symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound or smell. Other symptoms may include light-headedness and blurry vision. A migraine may be preceded by an aura, a neurological warning sign, which may occur 10 to 15 minutes before an attack. These include flashes of light, tingling sensations, or speech problems. Sometimes, your child may have migraines without an aura. A migraine may last from a few hours to 3 days.
The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but they are thought to be due to dilation and constriction of blood vessels because of abnormal nerve communication. It may have a genetic or environmental cause, triggered by missing meals, hormone changes during menstruation, stress, poor sleep habits, bright lights, loud sounds, unusual smells (paint thinner) and certain foods such as dairy, chocolate and peanuts.
When your child presents to the clinic with migraine symptoms, the doctor will study the nature and history of headaches and associated symptoms and identify any family history of the condition. Blood tests, CT and MRI scans may be ordered to rule out other possible reasons for headache.
To treat migraine your child's doctor may prescribe medications that prevent migraines to be taken on a regular basis, or abortive medications that are taken when a migraine occurs. Certain medications used for other purposes such as anti-nausea medication, blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications, or antidepressants are also effective in treating symptoms of migraine.