If you’ve made the decision to go to the emergency room with a migraine, you probably had one thing in mind: pain relief. Unfortunately, not every migraine sufferer gets the pain relief they need when they seek help. What’s worse, children who visit the ER with migraine symptoms are only given pain relief nearly 50 percent of the time.
Migraines in Children
It isn’t a childhood condition that is discussed often, but up to 10 percent of school-age children suffer from migraines. In kids with migraines, about a third suffer from poor performance in school and many, many kids miss school due to migraines. About 60 percent of children with migraines will grow up to be adult migraine sufferers.
Acute Migraine Treatment for Children
There are no drugs for migraine that have been approved for use in children by the FDA. However, there are a number of drugs that have been studied and used to successfully treat migraine symptoms in kids, including triptans, ergot preparations and NSAIDS. The American Academy of Neurology recommends that adults as well as children be offered pain medication for migraine in addition to preventative medication if necessary. Many children suffer from lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting during a migraine, so an antimetic may also be helpful for your child. There are also surgical treatment options available for teens.
Lack of Treatment for Children with Migraines
A study presented in June of 2015 as part of the annual meeting of the American Headache Society reported that children were unlikely to receive adequate evidence based treatment for migraines when they visited the emergency room. Reasons for this lack of treatment vary, but lack of communication between physician and child and lack of migraine-specific protocols for children were cited in the study. Until headache specialists have developed and implemented migraine protocols for children in the ER, the best place for your child to receive treatment for his or her migraine is at their pediatrician’s or headache specialist’s office.
Getting Your Child the Best Treatment for Migraines
When your child has a migraine, it’s terrifying and you just want to do anything to stop the pain. There are certain times when you may not be able to get to your doctor’s office and an ER visit is a must. Just like any other situation, you are the best advocate for your child in the ER. If you feel like your child is not receiving adequate treatment for his or her migraine, you have the right to ask for another care provider until you feel like your child’s needs have been addressed.
American Academy of Neurology, New Guidelines: Treatments Can Help Prevent Migraine. April 23, 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.americanheadachesociety.org/assets/1/7/EMBARGOED_AAN_Migraine_Guidelines_Press_Kit.pdf
Migraine.com, Migraine and Quality of Life: An Introduction. 2016. Retrieved from: https://migraine.com/living-with-migraine/migraine-and-quality-of-life/
Migraine Research Foundation. Migraine in Children. Retrieved from: http://www.migraineresearchfoundation.org/Migraine%20in%20Children.html