Headaches & Migraines in Teens & Preteens

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10-year-old's sudden stomachache, headache, and light sensitivity

Dec 2010

My 10 year old came home a few weeks ago with stomachache, dizziness and is still having vomiting, motion sickness and stomachache and headache. Many tests later we are at a dead via doctors. They recommend he see a psychiatrist or go to a pain clinic. He was living an active, normal life. Anyone experience anything like this or have any suggestions on where to turn or what to do next. We're trying to get him back to school but light, vibrations and stomach/headaches makes this challenging.

Consider taking your child to a neurologist. A couple of years ago, after sudden-onset symptoms that were remarkably like your son's, I went through a battery of tests and an array of doctors trying to figure out what could possibly be wrong with me. I'd begun to question my own sanity. Then I walked into a neurologist's office and he asked me how long I'd had migraines. Sure enough, that was it. Until then, I thought migraines were just nasty headaches, but there can be so much more involved. For me, the overwhelming vertigo is the migraine ''aura'', and I don't get the stomach upset unless my head REALLY hurts . . . but it's different for everyone. The good news is that migraines are treatable, if that's what your son has. The bad news is that the treatment, like the illness, is pretty individualized, so it may take awhile to get everything under control. mom with migraines

It may be a long shot, but certain food allergies can cause those 3 combined symptoms. I'm thinking gluten. Definately can cause headaches and stomach aches, but also dizziness, maybe light sensitivity. You might try taking him off of gluten for a few weeks and see. The dizziness and light sensitive part sounds like it could be an inner ear infection or virus. Good luck...I'd go w/ food allergy first. It's easiest to self test. Good luck, gluten free mom

Is it possible that your son is having migraines? I get all those symptoms (except the vomiting) when I am getting/have a migraine. My sister also gets migraines and has all the symptoms you described (except the dizziness). If I do not take migraine medicine, it can last for 2-4 days. Also, after I get a migraine, I am prone to getting one a few days later. Know what it feels like

Have you looked into allergies? Or other food sensitivity? What you describe *could* be a version of migraine, without the visual aura. Migraine is often the result of allergic reactions, particularly to fermented foods. Yeast, aged cheese, mushrooms, soy sauce, miso, (wine is unlikely in a 10 year-old's diet), etc; these are things you can google. Also has he recently started a new medication, was the house recently fumigated, any new furniture or rugs, newly painted surfaces? I.e., look for any new chemicals in his environment, at home or at school. Best wishes!

I experienced the exact same symptoms when I was a teenager; they were diagnosed as childhood migraines. First the light sensitivy, known as an ''aura'', exacerbated by fluorescent lighting, computer screens. Then came the headaches, really bad classic migraines. Then the stomachaches, nausea, and eventual vomiting. Altogether from aura to vomiting, lasted about 4 hours. Then the symptoms went away. With some prayer, Excedrin, and growing up, they eventually stopped. Try researching childhood migraines, or ask for a consult with someone who specifically deals with migraines in children. There are diet therapies that may be recommended for your child to try for a short amount of time to rule out certain triggers (cheese, chocolate, caffeine, etc.). Good luck. Anne in Eastmont

you might want to see a neurologist. Could be Migraine. I have a friend whose son got what is called abdominal migraines- nausea, vomiting. I get Migraines and nausea, vomiting, headache light and noise sensitivity are all symptoms. You might want to ask about that. If it is I am currently reading a great book about migraines called Migraine Brain. good luck familiar to pain

Have you considered that he might have migraines. Childhood migraines often start with these types of symptoms. amma

Uh, please don't send him to a psychiatrist or pain clinic just yet. Clearly he is suffering real, physical symptoms, and from the limited info in your post, these came on suddenly. Symptoms like the ones you describe can be caused by many unusual suspects which doctors don't necessarily test for as part of a routine workup. Persist! I would suggest that you look at parasites. His symptoms also are typical of many types of poisoning. Anon 

sorry if this is annoying- but was migraine ruled out? anon 

I am not a doctor or nurse but with the light sensitivity it sounds like a migrane. but the other stuff could be something going on in the inner ear, messing up his balance. Can you get a referal to an ear,nose and throat specialist, perhaps? Or someone with experience in children with migranes? Has anything changed lately in the child's diet? Or with relationships at school? Keep getting opinons if you can, keep your kid up to date on school work, check the diet, and follow your instinct. Mom

Has anyone suggested he see a neurologist? These are the symptoms that sent a friend of mine to the neurologist, who was able to diagnose and treat the problem. Good luck. anon

The light sensitivity makes it sound like it is some kind of weird migraine. I would suggest avoiding all possible triggers for a least a month to see if that helps. Some triggers: fluorescent lights, perfume, smoke, cheese and chocolate. More info here: http://www.relieve-migraine-headache.com/migraine-triggers.html anon

Sounds like standard migraine symptoms to me. I suggest you get to a pediatrician and discuss the situation. Also, keep a journal of symptoms, when they occur, and any unusual situations such as deviation from schedule, travel, going to the movies, etc. Some kids have nausea more predominant than headache. Photosensitivity is a clue that migraines are a strong possibility (buy some good sunglasses, this helps!) Common triggers include: certain foods, irregular eating, sleep changes, florescent lights, bright sun, scents/ fragrances, second hand smoke, loud noise. Migraines are treatable, so please get in and get evaluated! schafermd


Bio feedback for migraines in 13 yr boy?

Dec 2007

I'm looking for help for a 13 year old boy who has migraine headaches. He's willing to try bio-feedback, but we haven't been able to find anyone nearby to work with him. Albany or El Cerrito area is most convenient, but really we'll go anywhere in the East bay for good results. hoping for relief

i just read a study recently about the use of CoQ10 supplements to treat migraines in children. Can't remember where I read it - but it was evidently very effective. good luck! peggy

I don't have a referral for biofeedback, but I do have a friend who suffered from migraines for years as a teen and had amazing results through working with a chiropractor that practiced Network Spinal Analysis. For that I recommend Dr. Eileen Karpfinger & Dr. Aaron Rosselle at Upaya Center for Wellbeing (510) 444-4443. anon

this isn't exactly what you asked about, but I have had chronic headaches, including migraines, all my life and have recently tried cutting out all dairy products - it has helped a great deal. anon

go to www.eegdirectory.com and you can pull up all the providers in your area. We have used Carolyn Robertson in Walnut Creek and she is very good. I do not have experience with the others. jh

14-year-old daughter with chronic migraines and dizziness

April 2007

My 14-yr. old has been in and out of school for a year with migraines and dizziness. Topomax got rid of the headaches but she still has dizziness most of the time, but it varies in intensity. We've been to an allergist, neurologist, and ENT, and done scans and tests, and no one had a clear diagnosis. I would appreciate any suggestions. Has anyone gone to an inner ear specialist? Thanks

Hi to the parent of the teen with dizziness and migraines. A friend of mine is the parent of a 14 year old daughter who has experienced something similar and has been out of school for 6 months. She would love to talk to you and share some information and hear what has worked for you. Her most successful therapies so far have included biofeedback, nutritional therapy and craniosacral osteopathic manipulation. They, too, have seen similar practitioners and had similar tests. Best of luck with your daughter. Suzanna

My son had what sounds like the same symptoms, at the same age. Amazing. We went through many local specialists and ended up with two terrific ones who are not close.

First, Dr. Steven Dear specializes in dizziness conditions. He's at the California Ear Institute. You can find him at www.calear.com. Here is some of what they say about him: ''Dr. Dear currently provides care in medical otology and neurotology. His interests include vertigo, dizziness and balance disorders as well as tinnitus and hearing disorders. He is associated with the CEI Balance Center and the vestibular rehabilitation and balance retraining program.'' His office is just off the freeway in East Palo Alto. It is well worth the trip. My son was so relieved to find someone who totally understood what he was going through. Call 650-494-1000 right away. It is hard to get an appointment.

Second, Dr. Dear sent us to Dr. Susan Hansen in Mountain View, a neurologist who specializes in migraines. Her number is 650-691-1171. She trained my son on his triggers and how to prevent problems. She took lots of time to truly understand his particular case. He rarely gets migraines now. (She is very expensive and does not bill insurance.)

Finally, what I believe totally saved him, and still saves him now when he gets a recurrence, was and is vestibular therapy with a physical therapist who specializes in vestibular therapy. He got an amazing exercise program like I had never seen before. The exercises are directed at retraining the inner ears and brain. It took several weeks of therapy. Now, if he gets a bad congestion and starts spinning, I cue him to do the exercises and it clears up quickly. You probably want the therapist to be close to home since it involves weekly visits.

If you want to communicate further, I'll include my e-mail address. Good luck! sunhopes

My neighbor dealt with this exact problem successfully by going to three different people. One was Dr. Leslie Prins, a neurological chairopractor in Alameda, 769-6066, I think. It could be something in the body, a hidden virus or something leftover from a vaccine. He knows all this interesting stuff. He helped me figure out why I had fatigue for 30 years. Cleared of it not. Anyway, my neighbor also came to me for Jin Shin help, energetic work that can deal with dizziness. And she also went to a cranial sacral person I think. She is cleared now. I would start with Dr. Prins and go deeper if that is not enough.

PLEASE take your teen to a chiropractor. She/He (sorry, I don't remember if you said son or daughter)could have a misalignment of the top cervical vertebrae which could cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, etc. This could possibly be cleared up in a few sessions if that is the problem...and if the MD's are not finding anything, it's a good bet that it's structural, which the MD's may not be able to detect, or be looking for. I can recommend Dr. Elon Bartlett,(I'm a massage therapist. I work wtih Elon). Elon also uses some massage and Craneo/Sacral thearapy. He's very good and a sweet guy. Office number is 843-1234. We're at 2509 Milvia St. Bkly. I can also recommend Dr. Charlie Prins on Solano Avenue. His number is 526-6243. Charlie is also really great and also addresses nutrition issues as possible factors. Good luck. June

15-year-old daughter suffers from migraines


My 15 year old daughter suffers from Migraines. We have tried several drugs including Imatrex with limited success. I took her to see a neurologist at Children's. This was several years ago and medicines have changed since then. Can anyone recommend an adult neurologist who either specializes in Migraine or is very knowledgeable about them? Thanks. Toby

I don't have a neurologist to recommend, but would suggest you also look into accupuncture. my sister, mother, aunt, and husband all suffer from migraines, and i've watched them all take immitrex, beta-blockers (atenolol, etc.), codeinte, etc... my husband has found relief through accupuncture (a few sessions a few weeks apart, and now only sporadic visits). I'm not saying it works for everyone--my aunt's migraines are impervious to all drugs and accupuncture so far--but it's worth a try! My husband's accupuncturist is Richard Liao, with offices in Albany (510)-524-8148 and Walnut Creek (925) 942-0128. Jessica

Regarding your 15 year old daughter who suffers from migraines: I cannot recommend a neurologist in the area, but I can help you understand possible causes and triggers if you are interested. I am a 45 year old woman who has had migraines since I was 12 and I have done enough research to have a graduate degree in migraines! Feel free to email me and we can talk.There is a lot to know, and each person is different. Amy

I don't know of a neurologist, but there is a group called ACHE that has specialists in migraine. I heard a talk by their founder on KNBR recently that was pretty informative. I think they're in the Palo Alto area. Also, have you tried Advil Cold & Sinus? My husband suffered for years and tried all the meds without much relief, but for some reason the Cold & Sinus over-the-counter formula works wonders if he takes it early enough (in the prodromal period).

There was a piece on migraines on Fresh Air on 4/06. The interview is archived at: http://freshair.npr.org/dayFA.cfm?todayDate=archive It has an interview with the Cofounder of the New England Center for Headache DR FRED SHEFTELL. He had some interesting things to say about triggers. Myriam

In response to Toby's concern about his teenager with migranes: I recall that you asked for a neurologist; however I had migranes as a teenager and learned a technique from one small article on how to get rid of it. Perhaps b/c I was young and open minded, the technique worked well, and to this day I seldom ever get headaches/migranes. If I ever do, I'm able use this focusing technique to alleviate the pain usually within 10 minutes. Toby, feel free to call me if you'd like to talk about it more. Susan

You requested information regarding a neurologist, and I second your attempts to find one. It's a very good idea to check with a specialist before deciding a course of action. However, as a long time migraine sufferer, I would like to recommend that you and your daughter look into prevention as well as treatment. For me, nothing has worked so well as preventing the onset of a migraine, or learning how to nip it in the bud at first sign.

For me, the most effective prevention has been changing my diet--I've had to give up MSG and it's derivatives and aspartame (which is harder than you might think--just start reading lables--oh, and note that MSG comes under many names), as well as a few foods like chocolate. The key is to find what triggers them for your daughter. Your doctor should be able to give you a list of common trigger foods and how to check your diet. Other common triggers for many people are too much or too little sleep, sleeping too hot, very smoggy air, strong changes in barometric pressure, hormonal changes. If you can learn to notice what causes the migraines, I've found you can go a long way towards preventing them in the future. I've also found some relaxation techniques to be effective in prevention or warding one off if it threatens--try yoga or tai chi, or biofeedback, even regular exercise can manke a difference. Good luck! I hope your daughter can find some relief. Carolyn

I recommend Dr. Michael Stein, MD in Walnut Creek te. 925-938-5252. He helped me find relief with some of the newer pills. You might also consider acupuncture/chinese herbology - I've seen Brain Barlay for this with some results in that I've gotten improved sleep and lowered stress which has reduced the number of headaches...he's in Berkeley at 510-843-5753. Hope this helps. Susan