- pain, usually on one side of the head, but sometimes on both sides
- vomiting or nausea
- vision disturbances or ‘strange sensations’
- history of migraine in close family members (parents or siblings)
Migraine Equivalents in Children
Children can also present with a group of symptoms which do not include a headache at all. Instead, symptoms such as stomachache, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting may be the major part of a child’s attack, making migraine harder to recognise in children. This is known as Abdominal Migraine and typically, it evolves in more typical migraine after puberty. The abdominal pain can be dull, sore or intense and is usually located around the middle of the abdomen around the navel. Sometimes, vertigo and head-tilt can be part of a childhood migraine attack. Investigation is frequently required to rule out other causes of migraine-like symptoms in children.
The Migraine Association is a
Not for Profit Patient Charity
Migraine Triggers in Younger People
- Certain foods, such as cheese, citrus fruits, chocolate, fizzy drinks or preserved meats.
- Missed meals. In some cases a light snack before any extra activity could be all that is needed to prevent a migraine developing as it is important to maintain a constant blood sugar level.
- Lack of sleep and/or oversleeping. It is important to maintain regular bedtime and getting up times.
- Anxiety or stress factors which may include schoolwork, school performances and difficulties in relationships with parents, siblings and/or friends.
- Excessive physical exercise.
- Long hours playing video games or watching TV.
- Flickering lights such as fluorescent tube lighting, TV flicker or flashing images.
In many instances a combination of these factors may start a migraine. The use of a diary documenting all activities, food and drink taken in the 24 hour period prior to the onset of a migraine may help in the identification of trigger factors. Maintaining a diary for up to three months can help to establish patterns.
Please contact the MAI for a children’s migraine diary by phone or email: 01-8941280/ 1850-200-378.
Migraine Prevention and
Management in Children
Keeping a headache diary accurately records the frequency, severity and duration of attacks and can help to identify triggers which may help to prevent future migraine attacks. It also monitors the effectiveness of treatments.
The MAI provides migraine diaries for both adults and children. If the symptoms are noticed early a child can often sleep off the pain of migraine. Non-pharmacological management techniques include relaxation exercises, stress management, biofeedback and behavioural therapies. These therapies can greatly reduce the frequency of attacks.
If your child is about to have an attack, a mild pain-killing drug such as paracetamol should be given (in soluble form as this is more quickly absorbed). Aspirin should be avoided due to its association with a rare condition called Reye’s Disease.
Nausea or vomiting can be countered with an anti-nausea drug, which can be purchased over the counter and should be taken about 15 minutes before the painkiller. Preventative medical therapy is rarely recommended for children.
It is generally preferable for a child to miss a few days of school per term due to migraine, rather than give preventative medication. Regular preventative therapy may only be justified (over a short two-three month period) if the migraine attack frequency is distressing.
Following advice from a GP on the positive and negative aspects of treatment options, parents can decide on the best management solutions for their child. Contact us for information leaflets for parents and teachers: 01-894 1280/ 1850-200-378.
- Attacks usually shorter in children (usually less than 24 hours)
- Headache not as severe, or in some children not present at all
- Headache more likely to be on both sides of head in children
- Gastrointestinal symptoms are usually more prominent in children
- Equally prominent in boys before puberty. Thereafter, three times more common in girls
Why Take Headache in Children Seriously?
- The child’s school performance may decline
- Headaches can be debilitating, affecting the child’s ability to participate in activities and social events
- Relationships with friends and other family members can be affected
- Migraine may be indicative of other trouble in the child’s life such as lack of sleep, poor diet, stress, depression, or other illness
Learning to control the condition from an early age can minimise the cost and disability involved.
Migraine at School
The school principal, class teacher and/or school nurse should be informed of a child’s susceptibility to migraine.This will ensure that proper action is taken in the event of an attack i.e. that a child is allowed to lie down in a darkened room and take mild soluble pain killing drugs if necessary.
It will also minimize disruption to a child’s school routine. Most schools co-operate very well with whatever treatment has been suggested to parents. Teachers/nurses may prefer to ‘hold’ younger children’s medication and give it on request.
It may be appropriate for older children to carry their own medication and take an emergency supply of appropriate tablets when necessary. Every effort should be made to retain a normal routine and, where possible, avoid having to send the child home from school.
The MAI provides information leaflets for parents, teachers and students.
Migraine and State Examinations
Under certain circumstances special arrangements can be made to facilitate a student with migraine when taking state examinations. Some of these arrangements can be made by the school while for others it is necessary for the school to contact the Reasonable Accommodations Section of the State Examinations Commission.
for Leaving Certificate
The closing date for the Reasonable Accommodations for the 2019 State Exams has not been announced yet. We will update the website as soon as they are. For now, please see the 2018 guides and forms below.
The SEC has issued two guides to make people aware of the changes that have been made to the Reasonable Accommodations application for the 2018 exams.
They can be found on the SEC website or by clicking below; – Please be aware that the guides below take a few moments to load.
Student’s Guide to Reasonable Accommodation Instructions for Schools
The following are the application forms –
Late Application for Reasonable Accommodations for the 2018 Junior Cert Late Application for Reasonable Accommodations for the 2018 Leaving Cert for more information see www.examinations.ie
For all queries on the 2019 examinations please contact the State Examinations Commission directly: Email: email@example.com
Migraine and State Exams
State Examinations Commission (SEC)
The School can apply on behalf of the candidate using the form issued by the SEC to request a special centre within the school for the candidate to sit the examination on their own. The school must have a letter from the student’s GP/consultant before approaching the State Examinations Commission.
The school must apply in advance. The closing date for the 2019 examinations have not yet been announced. Decisions are made on a case by case basis.
If granted a special centre, it does not automatically mean that the candidate will be sitting in an examination centre on their own. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for school authorities to assign a small number of candidates (also being accommodated under the Reasonable Accommodations Scheme) to one special centre under the control of one superintendent.
A candidate may apply to have a tape recorder to record answers if they are unable to write.
In the event that a candidate cannot sit the examination at the scheduled time the candidate can sit later on that date provided they are supervised by a member of the School Authority, have had no contact with other candidates or anyone who may have had sight of the question paper, or knowledge of its contents. Any change to the scheduled start of an examination must have prior approval from the State Examinations Commission. Candidates may not, however, take an examination on a later date under any circumstances.
Should the student be alright on the day and have no need to avail of the special centre the Reasonable Accommodations Office should be notified. This can be done on the day and an email will suffice.
Contact details for the Reasonable Accommodations Office:
Phone: 090 644 2782
Fax: 090 644 2744
Accommodations that can be granted by School
- Granting breaks or rest periods in each examination session that are warranted by the physical or medical condition of the candidate. Under this type of arrangement the time taken for rest or as a break may be compensated for at the close of each examination period to a maximum of 20 minutes.
- Taking of medicine, food or drinks into the examination centre where this is required for medical reasons.
- Allowing the candidate to move within the centre.
- Use of a special desk or chair used in the classroom.
- Use of low vision aids used normally in the classroom.
- Ensuring that a candidate with a hearing impairment is positioned close to the superintendent.
More information on Exams and Beyond is available below.