It is very upsetting for parents/carers to watch their child distressed and unwell. As a parent/carer there are some practical approaches you can take to help your child deal with his/her condition. It is useful for children to keep a migraine diary to try and find a pattern in their attacks. Improvements can be achieved by avoiding things that trigger their migraine, such as lack of food or long gaps between meals. You can encourage the child to keep the diary themselves as this can be a useful tool for your doctor to help diagnose the condition.
Helping during an attack:
What medicines should I give?
- Be understanding and take your child's concerns seriously.
- Allow your child to rest in a quiet, darkened room if possible - with or without company as he/she wishes.
- Encourage your child to eat or drink a little if possible.
- Encourage your child to sleep if at all possible.
- Vomiting may actually ease or relieve the attack.
Maintaining good health
- Many children don't need medication; however, over the counter analgesics, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, may help (aspirin based products should not be given to children under 16 years).
- The painkillers are more likely to be successful if given soon after the onset of a headache.
- If over the counter medications are not helping or your child is having frequent attacks do visit your GP to discuss other options.
- Try to ensure your child drinks 1-2 litres of water each day. Dehydration can be a key trigger for an attack.
- Children should not go longer than three or four hours without food during the day, or 13 hours overnight. Your child should eat breakfast each morning and may also need additional snacks during the day to help prevent an attack.
- Keep a migraine diary to see if any particular triggers can be identified.
- Aim for your child to have a good night's sleep (at least 8/10 hours a night).
- Ensure your child takes a break after 45 minutes of TV, a games console or a computer. The eye strain and/or flickering of the screen can trigger an attack.
- Fresh air and exercise are important - encourage at least 30 minutes a day of outside exercise if possible.
- Talk to your child about his/her migraine. Let them know it is OK to discuss it with you and to ask for help if an attack is coming.
- Discuss your child's migraine with teachers, friends' parents and others who may have to deal with an attack whilst your child is in their care. Knowing that they understand should also make your child feel more able to ask for help when necessary.