Mumsnet hasn't checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have medical concerns, please seek medical attention; if you think your problem could be acute, do so immediately. Even qualified doctors can't diagnose over the internet, so do bear that in mind when seeking or giving advice.
This is a Premium feature
Tell me all your useful stuff on Migraines - my poor teenager...(52 Posts)
Hello and help, please.
My 14 yr old has been suffering from migraines for a few months. He’s had a couple of really awful ones where I was very scared - but otherwise, they’ve just been “normal” awful.
Because the first one was so dramatic, the GP sent him to hospital, and they were great. They’ve check for every kind of physical problem (brain MRI etc) because he was almost hallucinating, and lost use of his arms etc, so we know there’s no stroke, or, I’m not sure what else, but anyway, they’re confident it’s “just” migraines.
He has to take Triptans when he feels it come on, unfornately he often wakes up with it, so it’s already happening by the time he realises.. although once he realised before he went to bed, and took medicine, and woke up well.
I’ve looked up the Migraine Trust and love their help, but wonder if you have any experiences of how to be supportive, make it less of a horrible experience, but also because my H doesn’t seem to think it can just be migraines. He is sure that he’s trying to get out of school - not necessarily in a skiving way, but avoiding something. This is worse now because he was fine over the weekend, and then woke up with a migraine on Monday. THe reason I don’t think this is the case, is because he has discussed some really difficult stuff with us in the last few months, so I don’t think he’s bottling up, and also, when he is well, he works really hard to catch up, organises extensions for his assignments etc, and is out the door really easily on non-sick days.
I cannot imagine any teenager doing that if they fundamentally had a problem with being at school?
Here are a couple of specific questions I’ve got - but any small thing that has brought you comfort, or your child, I’d be very grateful.
1 - Have you tried feverfew? I remember it from my childhood for headaches, but have just seen it on a migraine website.
2 - He doesn’t get high blood pressure, in fact, if anything, it’s low, so the stuff you take everyday to avoid migraines, would that still work? My understanding is that its main job is to lower bp,
3 - Do you get back to work / child back to school during te hangover/afterwards stage? My son often wakes from a big sleep so much better, but a bit groggy, and my inclination is to go with it, whereas DH thinks he should be back in school pdq.
There is a whole extra level of crap, which I’m obviously already alluding to, where DH doesn’t necessarily believe something unless he’s experienced it himself, and our marriage is a whole other issue at the moment. My experience of a few migraines is that I was completely wiped out by them, but they presented very differently to this, and I don’t want to assume that DS is incapable, and feed the ...can’t think of the word, idea that he’s incapable/needs to stay home being pathetic?!
Anyway, too much waffle, but I’m feeling a little fried by many things, and just thought some practical help on this particular topic would be a good start!
Thank you if you got this far.
Oh I'm feeling so sorry for you and DS. It's so hard to deal with. Cutting out eggs help a good bit and putting an icy cold can from the fridge on back of the neck often helped too. Regular bedtimes, no caffeine, fizzy drinks, eat often to avoid low blood sugars and stay well hydrated. That's all I can think of just now. My dc would have been wiped out after one. I wouldn't have sent them back to school.
Oh OP, I was your son when I was this age. From 14-18 I suffered with horrific migraines. They checked repeatedly for tumors and other issues and found nothing. I would struggle with temporary paralysis in my left arm and hand, and had vision problems with aura migraines. I also had low blood pressure. I'm 30 now so I'm not sure what medications they have now but for four years they tried every one they had on me and none worked unfortunately. The only thing that worked was a solid 20-24 hours of sleep. It terrified my mother. There were several migraines she thought I'd died of an aneurysm.
It turned out it was just hormonal and when puberty was done so were they. I have the occasional one during a really bad period but your son obviously won't have that if his are in fact hormonal as well.
Let him sleep. I grew up in a country where they didn't track absences unless they were extreme so my mum let me sleep it off. I wouldn't have functioned otherwise. In fact at 18 I had a job so had to drag myself in the next day during the migraine hangover and it inevitably would trigger a new one. Which was hell.
Hope he feels better soon.
I have suffered from migraines for years and they always lasted three days. What I now do sounds so simple and may not work for you but it’s worth a try. I started a migraine one morning but had no pain killers as I wasn’t at home. The only thing close to hand was soluble aspirin so I took two. Four hours later I took two more by the evening the migraine was gone. So I did some research and apparently aspirin is recommended as a first line treatment and studies have shown it can be very effective. So now as soon as I feel one come on I take three soluble aspirin and drink half a can of full sugar coke. I take another two and drink the other half a can four hours later. Since I have been doing this the migraines last no more than a day. I don’t know why it works but it does for me and some friends have tried it successfully as well.
Has he had an eye test?
Does he stare at screens a lot? Brightness should be turned low and need a light filter to make is orange light instead of blue light.
Is he sleeping ok? Not staying up til daft o clock playing on an Xbox etc? Or on his phone? Maybe no tech after 9pm.
Does he drink enough water? Hydration is vital.
Could it be triggered by food or drink? Flavoured water gets me.
I use paracetamol taken with ice cold, full sugar coke and lie down in a dark room until it passes.
I would also send him back to school as soon as he was able to go. Don't get him used to being allowed to stay off because even if he isn't faking, he probably will milk it if you are a soft touch.
I was diagnosed at the age of 8 with migraines, after having many tests and head x rays (pre CAT scanners). I started out being prescribed Migralieve and sometimes Syndol. I carried on with those for years and in my late teens I was put on beta blockers to prevent them. I still have beta blockers but don't take them as often. I take amitryptiline every night which helps and have sumatriptan when I first notice a migraine. If your son had nausea with it he can be prescribed buccal prochlorperazine (sp) that is put between the top lip and gum, that stops the nausea.
Keep a diary of his migraines, as the pattern of them happening on a Monday may be to do with altered sleep patterns over the weekend.
Have a google about the benefits of magnets (wristbands and suchlike) for migraine sufferers. I recently bought a youstreamz ankle band from amazon for £39.99 for ankle arthritis but many of the reviews said it had been amazing for migraine sufferers x
Would recommend Bioflow wristbands too x
Oh my goodness, thank you so much, all of this is very useful. Not least it tells me that I’m checking the right things - and he is so over it that he is happy to try anything (even drastically reduced screen time). pussyhat , yep, all your questions have been considered, and we have plans for all of that (except the orange screen, dimmed, yes, orange, I”ll have to investigate).
I know that he has gone to school before because he knows that I have to go to work, and ended up lying in the school san all afternoon because he didn’t want to interrupt me, but I will continue to err on the side of “lets give it a go” if the actual pain has subsided.. I’m lucky that he’s at a private school, and still getting excellent results, otherwise the pressure from the school/government would be an extra factor. Although that’s pretty much what I have from DH anyway
I’ll try the aspirin, and presumably the coke is a caffeine and sugar thing? I’ll have a think about that... and speak to the neuro.
Hormonally it’s def a possible factor, good to know that will calm at some point too.
I’ll have a look at magnets!
Anymore ideas welcome, but meanwhile, I have new stuff to try. Which is great.
Migraleve is in shortage at the moment which is hell. I'm not sure if it works for everyone and I poo pooed it at first but drinking ginger at first sign of aura knocks the nausea on the head for me, flat diet coke or drinks with lemon eg sprite, water with lemon are the only liquids which stay down if I throw up and co-codomol is decent for stopping the pain before it starts.
Sadly chocolate was a trigger for me during puberty.
Definitely have him looked at by an optician
I don't know that sugary drinks would help
Apparently chocolate and caffeine can set it off
Wear sunglasses when necessary
Screen time minimised
And certain lighting should be considered Florescent lighting will set mine off straight away.
Best of luck
I have suffered with migraines since my teens. I’ve tried several different treatments but have now been on propranolol, a beta blocker, for about ten years and it has changed my life. I rarely get the terrible migraines I used to get every few weeks, maybe only once or twice a year now. I’m not sure if it would be appropriate for your son but I would definitely mention it to your GP.
In terms of self care, before I had mine under control I found regular meals and snacks really help, so your blood sugar doesn’t get low. If I felt an attack starting, as a PP has said, full fat Coke ( or sugary coffee) seems to help me, along with something starchy to eat, some codeine based painkillers and a lie down if possible.
Your DH needs to be more sympathetic. Even though you know a migraine is essentially harmless, it can honestly feel like you’re going to die. I’d happily pay someone to chop half of my head off when I’ve got one. Hope your son finds treatment that works for him.
The optometrist looked at everything, blood vessels, muscles, whole thing, he has great eyes apparently!
So far we've checked -
Sleep - length, temperature of room, start and end times.
Tech - amount of screen time, when during day, posture when on screens, brightness of light
Food - how much, how often, how much junk, how much protein/ carbs, any new food allergies (he already had some).
Oh poor boy. He needs to get to know the signs he is geting one. I get very sleepy, crave sweet foods (lots of people assume something is a trigger but it can be a sign of a migraine), I need to wee a lot, get stiff neck and shoulders and yawn excessively. Recognising the signs help time the triptan. A pp mentioned asprin; ibuprofen can also work. I take ibuprofen along with cups of coffee as the caffiene works in the same way as a triptan. Yes to keeping hydrated.
Acupuncture works really well for me. I was very skeptical but a few sessions makes a noticeable difference. Still baffled at how it works.
For those struggling to get migraleve, cocodamol and buclazine can be obtained separately. I thinkovrr the counter too.
My mother and I have both suffered from migraines, my mum's were caused by stress and food preservatives and colours. She's much more sensitive than me to migraines, she'd get one every few weeks when I was a kid.
Mine are triggered by stress and my periods, I now only get one every month or so and haven't had one for ages (breastfeeding and period hasn't returned yet).
For me I try to notice when one is coming on, and take ibuprofen and paracetamol as soon as I notice the pre-migraine stage. These are my warning signs:
- Irritable mood
- loud sounds and people talking physically hurts.
- Ordinary sounds like car horns and talking make me feel irritated and I just want everyone to shut up.
- rumbly tummy, I'll feel put off by most food.
Best thing you can do for a migraine is take pain relief as soon as you notice the pre-symptoms, and get straight to bed in a dark, quiet room.
The next day I try to take it easy. I'd still go to school or work but wouldn't do sports or anything too strenuous
Some stuff mentioned already by PP, totally agree with.
Full fat coke with painkiller of choice – the caffeine in it opens up the blood vessels to allow the painkiller better access
•Using screens – if using a laptop/ tablet I recommend f.lux – it’s a screen filter which can be downloaded for free, he can set it to suit himself by trial and error
•transition lenses (brown tint) for sunlight, sunglasses would work as well and a sun hat
•a green filter over books with a white background (that reflect all light including blue)
•print on coloured paper (usually green or purple) to read notes
•change my display settings in Windows to a green background (reduces glare and blue light)
•use the sepia background on my kindle app
•turn down the brightness on my laptop and android devices (reduces glare)
•use Blue Light Filter app set to 50-60% on my android devices to cut out most of the blue light OR f.lux
Hydration is a biggie – I drink plenty of water however for it to have good effects for me I add electrolyte powder to it. 1-2 teaspoons helps a lot, I use the stuff marketed at cyclists etc.
Ginger ale helps me with nausea,
When vertigo is severe I swear by prochlorperazine (like buccastem but not the dissolve under lip as I tend to vomit it), it’s available on prescription
When head pain is severe, I have a tank of oxygen (on prescription) which I put the rebreather mask on for 15-20 mins and turn it up to full – so pressure 15. This helps a lot.
When pain is bad, I go to bed in a dark quiet cool room and earplugs and eye mask and shut down all senses even if not sleeping I tend to count in my head and drop off at some point, the sleep helps
Fluorescent lighting kills me however I get away with lighting which is behind me and slightly obscured, the light in my bedroom is a lamp with a shade, sitting on a shelf high behind the bed, it means I get some light but it’s not glaring and is behind me
I also often wear prescription sunglasses even in winter; I’ve given up caring how it looks
www.severe-headache-expert.com/ - is a website I highly recommend. He is the neuro I see myself via the NHS and headache and migraine is a sub speciality interest of his. That gives you the free pdf book “is my headache dangerous” and a free email course in taking control of your headaches. There is nothing in those recommendations that will do your DS any harm if you want to have a go.
I would recommend keeping a migraine diary as this will help track if there is any pattern
Encourage getting up at the same time even at the weekends, as pp have said this may be the cause of the Monday migraine as while had been getting up at the same time Monday to Friday the change in routine can have the knock-on effect on migraine
migraine.ie/other-treatment-options/ - that link includes suggestions which may help also a diary and how to use it.
If his head is feeling a lot of pressure, ice pack on the back of his neck and get him to plunge his feet into a basin of as hot water as he can stand. The hot water will draw the blood away from his head so it’s not as pressurised pumping around it, as it passes the neck area it will be slightly cooled on its way to the body. The ice pack and the hot water will also confuse his brain pain signals so taking the stabbing down a bit even temporarily.
I’ve taken feverfew myself for almost 9 months, however, it didn’t make any impact on me. I’ve also been on various anti-seizure medications to try and help Topamax, Tegretol. I’ve had Botox for migraine (the plan was 3 rounds) but I had to stop at 2 due to side effects. I can’t have triptans as contraindicated and other meds that we were going to try I couldn’t due to other conditions and making it too risky.
I am on BP medications as I have another condition which makes mine uncontrollable and unstable and it rockets during a migraine.
A heat pack (wheatie bag done in the microwave) also helps me to curl up with it at my stomach as it helps distract my pain brain
Yes to eating little and often. A handful (so 10-12) of almonds actually has the same anti-inflammatory properties as 2 aspirin. However, almonds can also be a trigger for some people.
I have hemiplegic migraine which can last anything from hours to weeks to months in the same attack,
If he gets the weakness and it is different or anything seems out of what he has had before, don’t hesitate to go to a&e and get him checked out as you can’t be too careful
Magnesium is something which has helped me in the past when using the basin of water put a large cup of Epsom salts into the basin; the magnesium from it will be absorbed via the skin and can have a positive effect, and however, it can also cause a laxative effect.
I used magnesium until I literally became tolerant to it, one particularly bad attack I was given magnesium IV in hospital over 3 days to break it. It had worked before after just one dose but 6mg of magnesium later and there was no difference not even the laxative effect, we had to go to different attack mode. Magnesium had made almost 2 years bearable although it's very hard on veins.
For the hangover stage of migraine, I would treat it like an alcohol hangover. Its something will pass, hydration will help, some food and rest and then back to life until the next time.
Im not sure what way exams / school works for you but whenever exams come up I would be seeking accommodations so that he can take a break, hydrate, stop the clock and rest so would push for GP / specialist support for this in plenty of time as when exams come around it will be stressful which can make things worse
For you, as a mum, it is hard to watch your ds go through this and so I send you a big hug as you are doing your best.
My bil is a doctor, he says 95% of the time when they put people with a migraine on a drip, it improves. He feels most of them are due to dehydration.
(I have had a few migraines, as a result of being dyhydrated, built up over several days.)
But you also have hormones and stress going on. It's really tough.
I hope your son will be ok.
Sorry i meant to add that dioralyte can help with dehydration (if it is that) and if not then it won't hurt.
All the best, I hope things improve x
My migraines are triggered by:
* relief of stress - I will sometimes get one at the end of a relaxing weekend after a stressful week. It seems to happen as I relax fully. So it's caused by stress I suppose, but doesn't kick in until the stress is gone.
* medication - some antibiotics and also Valium.
* hormones - I had a migraine for three days prior to my period for all of my 30s until I was put into medically induced menopause at 43.
As PPs have said, I have recently found that aspirin taken immediately I feel a migraine coming on works, when combined with caffeine (I have coffee as I don't like Coke).
For me, a hot bath (as hot as I can stand) whilst I have a large ice-pack on my head will sometimes relieve the symptoms somewhat (but won't actually make the migraine go away entirely).
I always get a migraine 'hangover' so for 2-3 days afterwards I will feel incredibly tired, washed out, lethargic and intolerant to general noise and movement. If at all possible, I basically stay in bed and sleep until I feel normal again.
It may be worth reading Heal your headache
This looks at common triggers and discusses medication options etc worth a read.
Your poor DS - and poor you. The past months with all the tests must have been quite terrifying for you.
As a migraine-sufferer, I will say that I feel completely wiped out for days after a migraine. I'd say a week to completely recover, and the headache aspect of mine is relatively mild (aura is v unpleasant).
I can understand why you're unsure about letting your DS stay home, but agree with you that it doesn't sound like he's doing it on purpose if he's generally happy there.
Best of luck with it all.
I've had migraines for years, too. I've tried absolutely everything. I've even had 5 lots of Botox which does work for a while but isn't a cure. However about 4 years ago my pain consultant suggested I try acupuncture. It's been life changing for me. I've gone from having 18-21 a month to around 4 or 6 but they're nowhere near as severe as they used to be. I have to pay for it. I had 5 sessions, 1 a week to start with, now I go monthly.
I do take preventatives but I was taking them anyway because I suffer with other conditions where the same medication would be used for nerve pain etc.
I'd, also, suggest you keep a diary for a month or two writing down everything he eats and drinks and how much sleep he gets to see if there's a trigger.
Aspirin isn’t recommended in children under 16, you need to speak to the gp before you try it.
I’ve had migraines since I was 15, I tried all sorts pizotifen, sumatriptans, naratriptans, atenolol.
What works for me is 2 paracetamol, a can of full fat coke, an ice pack on my forehead and sleep. If the pain is so bad I can’t sleep I also take a nytol tablet.
Join the discussion
Please login first.