If you have ever had one, you know that migraines are often not typical, run-of-the-mill headaches. They cause intense throbbing pain, and can bring on nausea/vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and numbness and tingling in arms and legs. Even worse, these symptoms can last a few hours or up to three days in adults.
It is not just adults who suffer from these horrible headaches—studies have shown that 10% of children between the ages of 5 and 15 have migraines. And that number jumps for older kids: up to 28% of children between 15 and 19 experience migraines. When I worked in the pediatric neurology clinic, complaints related to migraines were one of the most common things I saw. And because around 90% of migraines are hereditary, the parents often had an idea of what was going on and could sympathize with their kids.
In addition to having to deal with the awful pain and additional symptoms, kids will often end up missing school when migraines strike. This can lead to bad grades and decrease participation in extracurricular activities. Clearly, migraines are more than “just a headache.”
Several triggers can lead to migraines. These include lack of sleep, skipping meals, dehydration, certain foods (unfortunately chocolate is a common one!), and stress. Learning to identify and avoid specific triggers has helped many patients- young and old- deal with their migraines.
To help teenagers take control of their migraines, NINDS developed an app, Migraine Trainer™. This free app includes features such as tracking warning signs and keeping a migraine log, which can be shared with parents and healthcare providers. In addition, the app offers tips and techniques for relaxation and deep breathing exercises to help lower stress levels.
We hope that this new app will help teens take control of their migraines and get back to living healthy, active lives.