Migraines In Children And Teens

Migraine, which is often genetic, can affect children and teenagers, as well as adults; 4 to 10% of children present with migraine symptoms.

Migraine, however, can affect us all differently. It is a good idea to understand how our children and teenagers may be affected and how we can help them prevent and manage attacks.

What Is A Migraine?

Unlike a regular headache which can be easily managed, a migraine is more intense in its severity and can last from 2 to 48 hours. They are more often reoccurring, meaning they can happen two or more times per month. Often described as a severe throbbing or pulsating pain on one side of the head, migraine can be debilitating and greatly affect our quality of life.


Migraine does not always occur with an intense headache but can be recognised by other contributing symptoms such as a stomachache, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, vertigo, light sensitivity, blurred or distorted vision, and speech disturbances. With so many varying symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose migraines in children. Be sure to talk to your GP when you are concerned about any potential symptoms.


Migraine is often triggered by a variety of
factors or a combination of issues including:

  • Missed meals. Low blood sugar can bring on an attack, so ensuring children eat a light snack before energising activities and avoid missing meals will help ward off attacks.
  • Certain foods can trigger a migraine attack such as cheese, chocolate, and fizzy drinks. Keeping a food diary for up to three months can help identify patterns and triggers.
  • Stress and anxiety, along with excessive physical activity can trigger an attack.
  • Sensory sensitivity such as flickering lights, flashing lights, or excess noise can contribute to the onset of one. 
  • Lack of sleep can also be a contributing factor.

Prevention And Management

Migraine is often hereditary, meaning if a member of your family suffers from migraine, your children may also endure attacks of the same nature. The best preventative treatment is understanding the triggers which bring on an attack and learning how to manage an attack when it strikes.

Keeping a migraine diary will help to understand and identify how and when it started. It will help you to recognise the frequency, severity, how long an attack lasts, and what was done to help ease the migraine.

Aside from taking painkillers, treatment can include relaxation including sleeping in a dark room, exercise, and stress management. Otherwise, on guidance and advice from your GP, paracetamol and anti-nausea medications can be used to manage the symptoms. Always speak to your GP when looking for treatment options for children with migraines.

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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