I freaked out the first time my neurosurgeon suggested Botox for migraines. But I was at the end of my rope and desperate for relief.
At that point, I would try anything for one migraine-free day. So I scheduled my appointment for the injections and fretted until then.
If you have never had a migraine, well, count yourself lucky. And no, please don’t equate them to just a “bad headache.” That is the understatement of the century.
And now, we know migraine begins in early childhood.
A recently published study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that migraines have been reported in children as young as 18 months old.
Half of all lifelong migraine sufferers have their first full-blown migraine before age 12.
When migraines begin in young children, they become a problem in adolescence, according to Dr. Andrew Charles, the study’s lead researcher. Migraines start to peak by age 32 and become less frequent by age 39.
Charles, a neurologist in California, told AlltheMoms.com that despite the prevalence of migraines, it “has received relatively little attention as a public health crisis.”
Migraines are often accompanied by debilitating head pain. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness along with sensitivity to touch, sound, light and odors usually follow.
Symptoms and signs often start a day or two before the onset of a migraine.
Puberty a game-changer
The New York-based Migraine Research Foundation estimates about 10 percent of school-age children suffer from migraines.
Boys suffer from migraines more often than girls before puberty. It flips when teens hit puberty. By age 17, clinicians estimate, 23 percent of girls experience migraines, compared to 8 percent of boys.
The exact cause of migraines is still unknown. But environmental and genetic factors play a role, Charles said.
Kids, blame your parents
Children with at least one parent who suffers from migraines are 50 percent more likely to also have chronic migraines. Those odds increase to 75 percent if both parents get migraines.
Children who suffer migraines often suffer from anxiety as a side effect. It’s called anticipatory anxiety. They worry about how a migraine attack can disrupt their daily life and future plans. And it’s very common, Charles said.
Children who suffer from chronic migraines are twice as often absent from school, according to research. They often suffer daily from headaches.
Migraine sets off cascade of issues
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a chronic migraine as 25 or more incidents per month, lasting four or more hours over a period of three or more months.
Charles’ study connected migraines in teens to chronic dizziness, sleep disturbances, depression, difficulty concentrating and fatigue — not unlike what adults experience.
But there are a lot fewer FDA-approved options to treat migraine in young sufferers. And it’s a lot harder to find neurologists to treat pediatric cases.
If you think your child is suffering from migraines, use this diagnosing tool and take it to their pediatrician.
If you have difficulty finding approved therapies and treatments that work for your child, the Migraine Research Foundation offers these guidelines.
Watch: What triggers migraines, how to help children
Watch: Controlling kids’ migraines