Diagnosing Migraine in Children

Diagnosing Migraine in Children

Headache is a cause for concern, and should be brought to the attention of a medical practitioner in order to eliminate other more serious conditions. It is important to remember that the majority of recurrent headaches in childhood are either tension type headaches or migraine.

A diagnosis of migraine in a child is made if headaches are recurrent and if two of the following symptoms are present:

  • pain, usually on one side of the head, but sometimes on both sides
  • vomiting or nausea
  • vision disturbances or ‘strange sensations’
  • history of migraine in close family members (parents or siblings)

Migraine Equivalents in Children

Children can also present with a group of symptoms which do not include a headache at all. Instead, symptoms such as stomachache, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting may be the major part of a child’s attack, making migraine harder to recognise in children. This is known as Abdominal Migraine and typically, it evolves in more typical migraine after puberty. The abdominal pain can be dull, sore or intense and is usually located around the middle of the abdomen around the navel. Sometimes, vertigo and head-tilt can be part of a childhood migraine attack. Investigation is frequently required to rule out other causes of migraine-like symptoms in children.

Diagnosing Migraine in Children

Diagnosing Migraine in Children

Headache is a cause for concern, and should be brought to the attention of a medical practitioner in order to eliminate other more serious conditions. It is important to remember that the majority of recurrent headaches in childhood are either tension type headaches or migraine.

A diagnosis of migraine in a child is made if headaches are recurrent and if two of the following symptoms are present:

  • pain, usually on one side of the head, but sometimes on both sides
  • vomiting or nausea
  • vision disturbances or ‘strange sensations’
  • history of migraine in close family members (parents or siblings)

Migraine Equivalents in Children

Children can also present with a group of symptoms which do not include a headache at all. Instead, symptoms such as stomachache, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting may be the major part of a child’s attack, making migraine harder to recognise in children. This is known as Abdominal Migraine and typically, it evolves in more typical migraine after puberty. The abdominal pain can be dull, sore or intense and is usually located around the middle of the abdomen around the navel. Sometimes, vertigo and head-tilt can be part of a childhood migraine attack. Investigation is frequently required to rule out other causes of migraine-like symptoms in children.