How can I help my teen to deal with migraines?
In addition to seeing your physician about recommended acute and preventive treatment options, there are many things that you can help your teen with that do not require prescriptions. Several lifestyle issues have been shown to significantly contribute to the severity of migraines.
Maintaining good sleep hygiene has been shown to improve migraines in children and adolescents with poor sleep hygiene8. It is very important to ensure that your teen gets the recommended 9-10 hours of sleep per night, and that bed times and wake times are kept consistent, as major changes in the sleep schedule can trigger migraines. Diet is also an important factor to consider, as certain foods can trigger migraines. The best way to identify food triggers is to keep a headache diary and make note of the relationship between certain foods and migraine onset. Your teen should have regular meals as hypoglycemia may trigger migraines. As is discussed above, stress may trigger migraines. If stress seems to trigger migraines for your teen, then a variety of stress management techniques can be explored. Relaxation training, biofeedback and psychological therapies like cognitive behavior therapy have been used to assist children with migraines and stress management. Exercise is another way to help stress management, and it may also be an effective intervention for migraines9,10.
References from the medical literature:
Varkey E, Cider A, Carlsson J, Linde M. A study to evaluate the feasibility of an aerobic exercise program in patients with migraine. Headache 2009;49(4):563–70.
Rocha-Filho PA, Santos P V. Headaches, quality of life, and academic performance in schoolchildren and adolescents. Headache 2014;54(7):1194–202.