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Living with child's migraine - experiences please

(23 Posts)
Solo2 Sun 07-Mar-10 11:00:04

DS2 aged 8 is having recurrent early morning headaches lasting usually from 7.30am till 10.30am. I posted about it recetly here and we're still waiting for a hospiatl app. to verify why he's getting them.

However, I've now done tons of research and am pretty sure he's getting migraine - although not sure why. So far, we'vre tried food exclusion and it's had no effect and whilst he's eating healthier now, he's still getting headaches every so often, even with obvious migraine inducing food excluded.

What I'm looking for are experiences from other mums with a child who sporadically - but regularly gets morning migraine. The three main questions I have are: 1) How do you still manage to work and 2) How does your DC catch up with school work? 3) Is ibuprofen much better than Calpol to speed up recovery?

I run my own business from home and can't cancel work at short notice but DS2 is old enough now to rest on his own, whilst I'm working and see me for short intervals between my work appointments. However, if I keep him off school for the day, it's frustrating as he's totally back to normal by about 10.30am but by then, I'm fully ensconced in work appointments/ meetings that can't suddenly be cancelled so I can't take him to school mid-day. How do others cope with maintaining work committments and a child with recurrent migraine?

DS2 LOVES school and hates to miss it. He's doing well but he's worried that he'll get behind in things - and miss his friends - if he's often off. Even if we were to arrange for him to get schoolwork sent home, there's limited time I'd have to teach him and he has a twin with his own needs too. I'm concerned how recurent migraine might affect his school life and beyond, given what I've read on the internet.

Re. medication, the GP has prescribed 10mgs Ibuprofen. DS2 is 8. He's only EVER had Calpol - haven't filled the presrciption yet. I only ever take paracetemol as ibuprofen gives me stomach pain. DS2 also has recurrent stomach problems, needing at least 3 to 5 poos a day. Would ibuprofen exacerbate this or would it be a 'Godsend' miracle cure and allow him to go to school even on a migraine day, compared with Calpol?

Whatever we do so far, the headaches still seem to run their course and last 2 to 3 hrs and all he wants to do whilst he's got one if lie down quietly in a darkened room.

Any shared experiences and advice would be v welcome, as he's had 2 days again off migraine, after 5 school days completely without (though in the recent past, he's also had some on school days too).

jenduff Sun 07-Mar-10 11:33:57

Coming at it from two angles - as a child and on and off as an adult I suffered migraines, and DS was same age as yours when he started with them. They are definitely triggered by food for me and avoiding them minimises the frequency, however they are also hormonal as I get one at the same time every month in my cycle.

I missed lots of school because a migraine would start up suddenly and I would spend the next hour or so vomiting until I got sent home to sleep it off - the medication I was prescribed was migraleve which is still on the market now, although for me ibuprofen is all I need to take the edge off it to make me semi-functional (provided I take it in time)

With DS I haven't identified any food triggers alhtough he has a fairly tighly controlled diet for other reasons. However he has said they are triggered by stress and strong light - and I also believe lack of sleep and hormones - I often find he has a cluster of migraines then an eating frenzy then a stroppy phase then a massive growth spurt.

DS has been prescriped sumatriptan by the GP - which the Pharmacist queried due to his age (9 when first prescribed) as its usually for adults, although DS is 5'6 now and sturdily built so GP feels his body can take it - for him they are like a miracle drug - provided he takes it at the onset then he is back to normal within the hour.

As regards work - well I gave up work (from being full time) when DS started school cos the juggling school hours / holidays / assemblys / days off sick etc became too complicated so I can't answer how to fit in a job.

I would imagine that ibuprofen would be better than calpol as it is an anti-inflammatory -but I know that its not great with a delicate tummy (although more likely to make him sick IME).

Dillie Sun 07-Mar-10 12:37:25

Not sure if this is helpful or not, but does he sleep funny? Has he had his neck checked out? How many pillows does he use?

Just that I find if I do sleep funny or my pillows are half way over my head iyswim, then I get a horrendous head ache for a couple of hours in the morning.

Does he know when a migraine is coming on? I do find taking meds as soon as I suspect something, even tho i have no pain then it does seem to take the worse off.

Also my dad swears by blackcurrent. He has a drink of strong blackcurrent at the first sign on a bad head and within 15 mins he is fine again.

As with the ibuprofen, I would go back to your doc's to see if there is anything else your ds can take.

weegiemum Sun 07-Mar-10 12:55:17

I get migraines that are almost totally hormonal (and have been vanishingly rare since I got menopausal!)

Ds (8) is the only one of my 3 kids to get them, he almost always gets them in the morning as well, wakes up with them. We usually give calpol as he has a dodgy tummy when he has a migraine and ibuprofen has made him sick a couple of times, but all he really wants to do is sleep it off in a dark room.

If he wakes at 7 with one he usually sleeps 2-3 hours, is violently sick, has some more capol and then is fine - and I often take him into school just before lunchtime when he has one (about once every 6-8 weeks or so) so that he doesn't miss too much school/interaction/getting homework etc. He's bright so the occasional morning off hasn't held him back at all.

I do wonder if it is tiredness, or too much 'screen' time - he is restricted to 1/2 hr a day Mon-Fri and an hour at weekends, and migraines are often Monday - wonder if it is too much screen over the weekend - he hates missing Monday Morning, they have gym and maths and he hates missing it! Yesterday he had some extra screen time as he had saved up and got a new Wii game and was playing it with his dad - then at 6pm he suddenly got that 'look' and lay down on a beanbag and fell asleep. Chucked up at 8.30 then slept all night!

I don't work for money, I am p/t sahm, p/t student, p/t volunteer literacy tutor. I have a couple of neighbours who are sahms who help out occasionally, but as most of my time is pretty flexible I am able to rearrange things for my students/my own tutors if I need to. Luckily with ds it is only once every 8 weeks or so. Could you get someone else to take your ds to school for you once he feels better?

Hope you can find a way round it - ds's paed said he may well grow out of it - most children do - though my Dad still gets them, I have grown out of it in a different way!

Solo2 Sun 07-Mar-10 13:31:53

Thanks everyone. I think it could well be due to a combination of sleeping funny - he likes to put his duvet over his head - sleep apnea - used to wake and re-breathe as a child after a split second stopping breathing - and possibility stress or letting go of stress - You know that phenomenon when you keep going and then collapse on holiday or at w/es. Although he hasn't yet had many bouts, there's a tendency to get them when it's a w/e or hol. than during school week.

He often has 'too mcuh screen time' I think but often then DOESN'T get a headache and although I'm getting him to cut down on this, don't think this is the trigger pers e. In fact the first ever bout was at the end of a week away with no PC and limited TV.

I haven't found any food triggers so far although trying to watch what he eats. He's not often sick but it just crossed my mind that his non-identical twin has inexplained regular votming bouts - often either one hr after going to sleep or first thing on waking - but with no headache. Could this be a migraine related thing too....of a food thing...? I have no ideas and after him having this for almost 9 yrs, no doctor has been able to give me any answers.

Yes, he sort of knows when one's coming on as he gets watery eyes and what he calls 'head pressure' and I suppose I just have to monitor this, as he'll deny anything's wrong till it's too late - and give painkillers straightaway.

Useful ideas about meds. I'm not at all inclined to try ibubrofen really. I'mn not sure Calpol helps much though and they seem just to run their course.

There's no one really to take him into school mid-day unfortunately and that's the hardest part , having to work and yet him missing school.

I also wonder if it's hormone related as he's had what I call 'teenage BO' since age 6, is more stroppy, particularly since the headaches and gets sptos and blackheads and also herpes virus on his lip/ chin area. Right now he's got what looks like a rash of spots on his lower face and this coincided with latest headaches.

I think testosterone levels rise around this age in boys, as they're prepubescent rising to puberty and he's a chunky build.

I can't remember having migraine myself and usually have to get on with life and work, no matter how ill I feel. So I find it hard to accept that my children get illnesses that actually stop them living a normal life. There's no history of headaches on any side of the family. So I don't know why he's developed them really and worry he'll now have them life long and be debilitated hugely by them.

I'll ask the paediatrician, whenever the appointment comes through - about other meds. Jenduff, what kind of drug is sumatriptan? Is it a painkiller or does it have another action too?

3littlefrogs Sun 07-Mar-10 13:32:46

I used to get migraines, my eldest ds used to get them at about this age.

Ibuprofen was definitely better than paracetamol. Paracetamol use can result in rebound headaches in some people. I understand your point about sicky tummy, but still worth giving the ibuprofen a go IMO.

Screen time was definitely a factor for ds1.

Also position when using screen, playstation etc - he is 21 now and still has to be careful about his seating position when using computer etc, as he gets neck pain that causes headaches.

Tiredness was also a factor.

I would recommend an eye test too.

DD used to get awful migraines, and abdominal migraines. Tinted prescription reading glasses cured the "headache migraines" overnight!


3littlefrogs Sun 07-Mar-10 13:35:50

Migraine is truly debilitating though. Impossible for someone who hasn't had it to understand. It is the most excrutiating pain and nausea, and, for me, total disorientation and inability to speak.

jenduff Sun 07-Mar-10 16:54:58

I second what 3littlefrogs says about how debilitating migraines are particularly for people who have never experienced them.

Solo2 I would really urge you to at least try the ibuprofen as your son may be in considerable pain that the ibuprofen may help with, as opposed to letting it run its course.

I know that some people can assume that a migraine is just a headache, in the same way as some men like DH class a cold as flu - there truly is a difference between headache and migraine.

I hope for your DS and mine that it's something that they grow out of because it is utterly miserable - not to mention hard to juggle missing school and work.

One thing the GP said is that with a migraine it is important to take medicine straight away rather than later on as it is often ineffective - presumably as the stomach shuts down / sufferer becomes nauseous.

Sumatriptan is heavy duty stuff as we found calpol / ibuprofen wasn't helping - it stops the widening of the blood vessels in the head which causes the pain part of the migraine.

Nicnocknoo Sun 07-Mar-10 20:25:10

Solo2 - WRT to the non-identical twin suffering regular vomiting bouts ... ds1 has been diagnosed with Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome (also referred to a abdominal migraine). Every few months he wakes up and vomits/retches for about five days and sleeps in between - no other symptons although the last episode was preceeded by a headache.
CVS is thought to mainly affect children but can develop into migraine attacks.

GigglyWrinkles Sun 07-Mar-10 20:44:30

I was told by my optician that the headaches I was experiencing was a combination of using the computer too much and 'dry eyes'. I hadn't thought about what dry eyes actually means, but I have now got glasses and I haven't had a headache since.

ChristieF Mon 08-Mar-10 11:52:35

Have you thought they may be allergy related? I have allergy to yeast and wheat. Sometimes get shocking headaches because of the swelling caused. I know some kids are allergic to dairy products. I have mostly dealt with the headaches by using antihistamines which work by bringing down the swelling. You may have to try different brands as they are all different antihistamines. I use Piriton every day. I have also noticed that using Olbas oil on a cotton ball brings down a headache quickly sometimes. Again, reducing swelling (in the sinuses). Strangely I am allergic (amongst many other things) to Vicks rub. It brings me out in huge red welts on the skin. I also get hayfever headaches for which I use antihistamines. Very effective.

ChristieF Mon 08-Mar-10 11:55:49

Also, he does seem to poo rather a lot. Have you thought about lactose intolerance? You can be tested at the GPs for this. Any sort of intolerance or allergy can cause oedema or swelling which can cause headaches.

3littlefrogs Mon 08-Mar-10 11:59:19

I think keeping a food/symptom diary is very important - it might lead you to the answer quite quickly.

ChristieF Mon 08-Mar-10 12:02:00

Also have you tried antihistamines for allergy to dust mites? If he's getting headaches in the morning, does he have anything on the bed or in the bedroom that could be causing it? Feather and down in the bedding? Animal hairs? Heavily scented fabric conditioner on the bedding (makes my eyes run)? Heavily scented (or biological) soap powder to wash bedclothes? I've had allergies all my life and it takes detective work to figure it out. Also, toothpaste? My eyes and nose run and lips tingle. Anything can cause an allergy and allergies cause swelling. The swelling can cause headaches. Olbas oil seems to keep swelling down.

weegiemum Mon 08-Mar-10 12:02:15

I was going to suggest abdominal migraine for his twin - ds sometimes gets this too.

Sumatriptan is one of the "triptans" - medication for migraine. It reduces blood flow to the head as migraine is reported to be a reduction in blood flow followed by a dilation of blood vessels - its this 'rush' of blood to the head that causes the headache. I used to use naratriptan to great effect but can't at the moment as it clashes with my antidepressants.

Our Paed says ds is too young for it - you need to be at least 12 and even though he is tall for his age he is skinny as a rake (despite inhaling food at every opportunity!) and just not in the tiniest bit pre-pubertal.

I assume you have had his eyes checked? That was our first port of call - optician even before GP!

Solo2 Mon 08-Mar-10 18:36:56

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I'm ruling nothing out as i have no idea why he's getting the headaches. What puzzles me is if it's any of the things suggested, why is he only getting headaches SOME of the time? There seems no obvious cause and effect. I tried cutting out choc and cheese from his diet - not that he often eats cheese, milk or milk products anyway. But it had no obvious effect.

He first ever got the headaches on the last day of a family holiday - thus sort of ruling out chemicals of any kind in our own home and his headaches also predated us getting 2 kittens and him starting horse riding - so can't be connected to animals.

When I also cut down on wheat/ gluten and additives - admittedly not completely cutting thses out, he still had headaches and when he ate those things again (though still cutting down and cutting out lots of additives) he didn't get headaches.

He had headaches both mornings of this last w/e and no headache today - a schoolday. Other than joke with him he's allergic to home/ Mummy/ weekends grin - the only different factor at the w/e is that he's encouraged to lie in longer - but even then he doesn't always comply and anyway, he's still had headaches on a normal up-early school day.

I wonder if it's sleep related/ breathing related but again am not sure because why then is he often NOT getting a headache even if he's tired?

I've kept a food diary but there are no obvious connections between what he eats and the headaches.

He's the only one in the family with perfect vision and was discharged form follow-up at hosoital after being diagnosed with a squint as a baby. He can see lots more than his twin and I can see, rapidly identifying road sign way before we can and reads and writes no problem.

I will mention his twin's vomiting to the paediatrician. There may well be a connection and yes, I'd heard about abdominal migraine and twin might be having this.

Bought some ibuprofen but not yet used it and Calpol at the w/e seemed to speed up recovery on Sat. Was trying without on Sun and think this lengthened the time he had the headache but gave it finally and the overall length of each headache was almost and is almost always from 7.30am till 10.30am, which means they start anything from 1 to 2 hrs after he wakes up.

It's really helpful getting all these ideas and I hope we don't have to wait too long till the hospital appointment.

jenduff Mon 08-Mar-10 20:04:34

As regards food triggers - whilst chocolate and cheese are common ones - mine are rather bizarrely oranges, roast pork (but not bacon and ham) and (obviously this won't affect your DS yet!) red wine.

Equally going too long without food can bring one on for me - maybe topping up your DS the night before could help - clutching at straws a bit there!

indianrani Wed 10-Mar-10 11:59:02

I have been reading these posts with interest as was about to post a message myself regarding my 12 year old son who has also been suffering from migraine (we think) for a number of years, but seem to have got worse since he started High School - over the last few weeks he has had a migraine daily - nearly always waking up with it. Paracet didn't really work, ibruprofen was better. Was seen by the paed in Jan who said it was migraine and suggested Pizotifen (prophylaxis) - we didn't start this and tried other things like diet control (taking out chocolate and cheese), reduced 'screen-time' and tried (only a few times) homeopathy meds from over the counter and had eye test.

Nothing worked. Went to see GP again and asked for 2nd opinion from another paeds, waiting appt. In meantime we started the pizotifen (half a tab at night)about 4 days ago - worked wonders day 1,2 where he felt reduction in pain and day 3 went swimming and triggered a migraine but it went away quicker, Day 4 yesterday, first day migraine free all day - great we thought.

Then this morning went to wake him and he was sobbing said he had migraine during the night, again off school and we gave him the other half of the pizotifen in the morning - headache pain decreased but now feeling nauseous! has anyone tried acupuncture with children? I have heard it can help migraines? I suffer them too, so could be related. But need to break this cycle as its stopping him from doing things and I feel the Docs have just shooed me away. I have heard sumatriptan is strong and am reluctant to use it. Have also been told that beta-blockers could help - has anyone used this for migraine for themself or for children? Thanks - desparately trying to find a prevention!!

thebird Wed 10-Mar-10 22:05:17

My sister suffered with migraine throughout her childhood (now 16). Sometimes the pain was so bad she would faint! Had a hard time and missed lost of school etc.

After lots of tests GPs, Paeds visits etc. finally found out she was gluten intollerant like my mum who is Coeliac. Migraine and bowl trouble are two possible symtoms of this and it is often overlooked.

A gluten free diet really helped together with cutting out cheese and chocolate. She is not completley migraine free but does suffer a lot less. Stress and hormones also big triggers but she has now learned to recognise when one is coming on so taking paracetemol/ ibpurofen as early as possible helps.

Worth asking for a blood test to check for coeliac - but do not do gluten free before the test as antibodies will not show up. Might be nothing but like I say its worth a try!

macb1702 Mon 08-Nov-10 16:13:26

My DS (5.5yrs) has started suffering from migraines, he falls asleep whereever he may be and then vomits a few times after he wakes up. I have a couple of questions for you.... a stupid one firstly, should I take him to the doctors to have it confirmed? My big problem is he won't take medication, he absolutely refuses to take Calpol/Nurofen suspension, and so the only meds I can get down him are the Calpol meltlets which are for 6+. (I have worked out the correct dose he is able to take in 24hrs, so I'm not overdosing him before anyone worries!) In doing a bit of research though I see Nurofen is more effective, but they don't produce the meltlets do they? This will also have a knock on problem if the doctor prescribes something.... help anyone please?

Gio Wed 08-Feb-17 14:43:30

My DD has been suffering with headache/migraines for a few months now. We have a hospital appt on Friday as this last wee she's had them in clusters every afternoon and evening until about 10pm at night. She complains of nausea and tummy ache and funny vision too and then feels tired and dizzy for a while after. I've had to take her out of school 3 times this week.
An added complication is her vision, in June she was given a new glasses prescription - has a stigmatism in both eyes, one short sighted and the other long sighted. At first we thought it was the glasses - as putting them on recently seemed to trigger a migraine. But with glasses off for over a week now, she's still getting them.
Part of me wants to rush to A&E as I'm paranoid about something much more serious. Should I wait until the appointment on Friday?

BingoBingoBingoBango Wed 08-Feb-17 17:30:05

It might be better to start your own thread as everyone will just reply to the OP.

LimeySnickett Wed 08-Feb-17 20:26:23

Gio -I'm sure you're already worried - but absolutely insist on an MRI. Do not get fobbed off, when you go to the hospital appointment or if you go beforehand.

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