Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Headache - Migraine


  • Migraine headaches are the most painful type of recurrent headache. During a migraine, most people can't do anything except lie down.
  • Your child has been diagnosed in the past as having previous migraines

Call or Return If

  • Headache becomes much worse than past migraines
  • Headache lasts longer than past migraines
  • You think your child needs to be seen

About This Topic


  • Severe, very painful headaches. The pain is usually described as throbbing or pounding.
  • Pain usually only on one side of the head.
  • The pain is very severe and keeps your child from doing any normal activities.
  • Lights and sound make them worse. Most children want to lie down in a dark, quiet room.
  • Vomiting or nausea is present in 80%.


  • Migraines run in families (genetic).
  • Also called vascular headaches because of changes in the blood vessels.

Pain Scale

  • Mild: Your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
  • Moderate: The pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities. It may wake him or her up from sleep.
  • Severe: The pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.

After Care Advice

  • The sooner a migraine headache is treated, the more likely the treatment will work.
  • Often the most helpful treatment is drinking water and going to sleep.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Migraine Medicine:
  • If your child's doctor has prescribed a medicine for migraines, use it as directed.
  • Give it as soon as the migraine starts.
  • If not, ibuprofen is the best over-the-counter med for migraines. Give ibuprofen now.
  • Repeat ibuprofen in 6 hours if needed.
Cold Pack:
  • Put a cold pack on the spot that hurts the most. You can also use a cold wet washcloth.
  • Do this for 20 minutes.
  • Drink lots of fluids as soon as you think a migraine is coming on.
  • Water works fastest.
  • Reason: Being dehydrated is the most common trigger for a migraine attack.
  • Have your child lie down in a dark, quiet place.
  • Try to fall asleep.
  • People with a migraine often wake up from sleep with their migraine gone.
Prevention of Migraine Attacks:
  • Drink lots of fluids. Reason: Getting dehydrated is the most common trigger for migraines.
  • Don't skip meals.
  • Get enough sleep each night.
What to Expect:
  • With treatment, migraine headaches usually go away in 2 to 6 hours.
  • Most people with migraines get 3 or 4 attacks per year.
Return to School:
  • Children with a true migraine headache are not able to stay in school.
  • Children with migraine headaches also commonly get muscle tension headaches. For those, they should take a pain medicine and go to school. Learn to tell them apart.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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