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Symptoms and Signs of Migraine Headache in Children

Doctor's Notes on Migraine Headache in Children

Migraines are severe headaches that usually occur with throbbing pain generally experienced on one side of the head and may last several days or weeks. Children with a migraine attack may look ill, have abdominal pain, vomiting, and have a strong need to sleep. When awake, they may show pain by being irritable, crying, rocking their body and seeking dark places to sleep. Children with migraines are often asked to describe how the headache feels (symptoms of the headache pain or discomfort being throbbing, pounding, squeezing, burning, stabbing, aching or pressure like). Some patients may have an aura (a sensation of light flashes, sounds or other sensations) right before the headache begins. Some children may show abnormal sensitivity to light and/or sound during the migraine. Others may also have tenderness in the scalp over where the pain is most severe. These signs and symptoms may occur in other conditions so it is not unusual for children to undergo testing to rule out other causes.

The exact cause or causes of migraine headaches in children is not known. However, some migraines are thought to be due to a low level of serotonin in the brain. Many migraine patients learn that their migraines can be triggered by things they may eat, drink or do physically. Although we don’t know why these triggers work, identifying such triggers can help reduce the occurrence of migraine headaches. Consequently, some common triggers that may cause migraine headaches in both children and adults to occur are listed below: Chocolate, cheese, nuts, shellfish, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and monosodium glutamate in Chinese food.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.