Can Children Have A Migraine Headache?


Over 1 out of 10 patients with migraine headaches as adults say their first attack was before age 7 years.

How Can Parents Tell If Their Children Are Having a Migraine Headache

Unlike adults who can describe their symptoms (one-sided pounding headache with sensitivity to light, sound, nausea, and vomiting) most young children are limited in their ability to describe their headache given their developmental stage.

Important clues that can alert parents that their child is having a migraine headache is where their child suddenly (over a matter of minutes) appears:

  • Unwell or pale
  • Bangs or holds his or her head
  • Complains of a stomach-ache and/or vomits
  • Stops play
  • Wants to go lay down to rest in a dark, quiet room
  • After a period of rest/sleep, they go back to their activity

What can parents do to help their child during a migraine headache?

The most effective strategy is to help their child get to a quiet dark area for them to sleep. In children, effective medications are Ibuprofen (Advil) and Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Some parents find that Advil works slightly better than Tylenol. Both Advil and Tylenol can be taken together.

What can parents do to prevent episodes of migraine headaches?

Healthy habits include a good number of hours of sleep, regular exercise, and proper hydration are the cornerstones of preventing migraine headaches in children.

Stress can be a factor – read more on how to Reduce Anxiety and Stress in Kids & Teens

Avoid the following:

Caffeine and too much sugar.

Stress can be a factor.

It is also important for parents to understand that children who are emotionally upset (bullying in school, high stress) can also cause an increase in frequency of migraine headaches.

Prescribed medications taken daily can be used for those children who are having very frequent headaches and in whom healthy habits are not decreasing the frequency of migraine headaches.

The general information provided on the Website is for informational purposes and is not medical advice.

Do NOT use this Website for medical emergencies.

If you have a medical emergency, call a physician or qualified healthcare provider, or CALL 911 immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this Website. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed and qualified health provider in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this Website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

About Dr. Aly Aziz, MD, FRCPC

Dr. Aly Aziz is a pediatric neurologist, who completed his residency at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He also trained as a fellow in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) in Ottawa for one year at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Dr. Aziz is interested in all aspects of child neurology.

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