Headaches and migraines in kids-what to know
BY WENDY M. HENRICHS
Board Certified Chiropractic Pediatrician and Nutrition Counselor
If you have ever had a headache you know how debilitating it can be, especially a migraine headache. Just think if you are a child and suffer from recurring headaches and migraines. This article will discuss headaches and migraines in children, but can also be applied to adults as well. Whether you or someone you know suffers from headaches, there is hope.
Adolescents and teens experience three million bedridden days per month in the US due to headaches. Headaches are one of the top five diseases of childhood. The prevalence of headaches in elementary students ranges from 31-51 percent as compared to high school students at 57-82 percent. The most frequent and reoccurring headache of childhood is migraine, including infants a few months of age. Eighty-five percent of children ages 13-15 have had headaches, and 75 percent of children have suffered headaches in general by age 15.
Half of the school absentees from headaches average at least two days per month.Frequent headaches can be psychologically distressing and may have major implications on the life of the growing adolescent or teenager. A chronic tension-type headache has been compared with psychiatric illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders, and attention deficit and anger-control deficit in adolescents. If any of the following are associated with a child’s headache, immediate medical evaluation is needed.
• Weight loss
• Newly acquired neurological signs symptoms
• Balance difficulties
• Vision changes
• Behavioral/Cognitive changes
• Age less than six years
There are many things that can trigger headaches and specifically migraine headaches. Keep a daily log that includes medications, food intake, exercise, sleep, water intake, and whether you had a headache. This will assist your healthcare provider. Chiropractors also assess the spine and upper extremity joints for misalignments also referred to as subluxations which can cause tension in the head and neck, and effect the nerve and blood flow to the head. Considering the entire symptomatology and lifestyle triggers is important to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. If your child or teenager suffers from migraines, decreasing and eliminating triggers is important in decreasing the frequency and severity of the migraines. Consider the trigger listed below when working towards decreasing or eliminating the occurrence of migraines.
1. Stress and anxiety
2. Allergies or sensitivities to foods and beverages
3. Preservatives: MSG, tyramine, glutamate, caffeine, nitrates
5. Lack of sleep
7. Oral contraceptives
8. Glare/ visual problems
10. Physical exertion and fatigue
11. High altitude
If your child suffers from recurring headaches or migraines you may have tried the common treatment of rest and/or OTC pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, or other prescription medications that are sometimes used. Complementary medicine treatments such as: chiropractic care; massage; acupuncture; relaxation training; and biofeedback training can be effective in reducing or eliminating headaches and migraines. It has been my experience that a multifaceted approach works best in reducing and eliminating recurring headaches and migraines.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, visit TimberlandChiropractic.com, Facebook, or call 715-362-4852.