34 answers

Migraines in a 4 Year Old

I think my son my be suffering from migraines, which scares me since I have never experienced them. I didn't think that a child so young could develop migraines, but after some research I found that it's not uncommon. He started out telling me he didn't feel well and his nose hurt. After a while he started to complain that his eyes and head hurt. I was about to give him some Tylenol when he got sick. This happened three times yesterday, about the same time the medicine would were off from the last dose is my guess. In between episodes he acts normal, well as normal as a 4yo boy can be. I have made an appointment for him to see the doctor this morning.

Has anyone else experience migraines with their child at a young age? Is there a way to prevent them or know what can trigger them? I haven't fed him anything differently that I would think may cause them.

Thank you for your help.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I took him in to see the doctor. I explained to him as I explained to you about his headaches. He didn't want to diagnose just yet with migraines, but seemed to think that it was a probable. He asked us to keep a log of when he started to get sick, what were the conditions around him, and what we did to alleviate the pain. His appointment was at 11am and he had another episode around 3:30pm that day, but has not had another episode since then and it has now been a week.

I have a feeling that it may have been a new carpet deodorizer that I started using. I didn't think anything of it, until I realized that my daughter developed a slight rash from it. They may both have a allergy to it, just reacted differently.

Featured Answers

My neice was diagnosed with migraines at three. Take him to a doctor to rule out anything more serious. Diet extremely affects her - particularly certain dyes and sugar substitutes. They had to introduce her to foods slowly to determine the causes - similar to a baby. Finally, medication was limited due to their age, but the doctor recommended a combination of things that her parents can do to make her migraines more manageable. Good luck!

Food additives, dyes, pesticides, etc can cause them. Try feeding him only organic, whole foods without any additives.

I swore that my son got them at that age as well. I was shocked because one moment he was fine and then it was down hill. He would complain of not feeling well, having to go lie down, then darting for the bathroom to throwup. I noticed it when he played TOO much for long periods of time, and when it was hot outside and he didn't drink enough water. (I get them in the same situations.) We found some guidelines for him to help prevent them before they got too bad. Taking a break (watching a movie or playing video games) for a little while to give him some rest. (we made it something fun so he wouldn't feel left out). I also continually keep a glass of water or a water bottle full for him so he could drink every time he passed the kitchen. Good luck!

More Answers

I have a 4 yo son too. I would definitely take him to a specialist like an ENT and not just the pediatrician, so that he can receive further testing like and MRI or CAT scan to rule out anything serious. I wouldn't mess around with someone so young experiencing migraines out of the blue.
Tylenol or Motrin only mask the pain, not the underlying cause.

I hope he feels better SOON!

Best,
C.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow! I feel sorry for your son - migraines aren't fun!! I've had them for years, sometimes as often as 3 or 4 times a week. Some things that I have found to help me are laying down with an ice pack on the back of his neck and over his eyes/sinuses. A great ice pack that is cold enough, but doesn't freeze your skin is a sock full of rice. If you are crafty - you can sew a tube, and fill it part way with rice, and freeze it. Or, sew a pouch that looks like a letter B for over the eyes. They can also be popped into the microwave for a few seconds if you need a heat pack.
Also, I have gone to chiropractors in the middle of a migraine, and they have gone away after an adjustment.
See if your son can tell you if he has auroas prior to the migraine becoming full blown. I loose my sight before a migraine hits, and I know I have about 5 minutes to take my medicine, take care of my kids, etc, before the pain hits.
Be prepared for him to have a CAT scan - it's a common "next step".

Good luck!!

So sorry about your son. When I was 2 or 3, I began having migrains. It was so awful. I would be sick for a couple of days throwing up from the pain. I got glasses when I was seven. When I was 9, my optometrist told my mom that she wanted me to have rose colored lenses to stop the migraines. My migraines actually did stop after that. I have no idea how that worked, but it did. I only wore them for a year. Don't know if your son has vision problems, but you might check with the optometrist anyway to see if there is anything they might recommend. I know a boy wouldn't want to have pink lenses though. I sure hope that you can get some relief for him.

Ditto to Brandi. My family has a strong history of Migraines and Sinas headaches. My DD is 18 months and I pray that it is not surfacing in her, but, I do see the signs. Since you don't have a history of migraines it may be a little more difficult for you to get in front of the problem. Some common triggers for my daughter and I are excessive humidity or changes in the barometric pressure, over exhaustion, sudden light exposure (strobe lights, fire warning, flickering florescents, etc.) and strong smells (perfume and paint are the worst). DD gets very irritable and combative, she may even squeeze or rub her head when it gets really bad. The best cure I have found for the both of us is to sit in a quiet, dark or dimly lit room and rock. The motions is soothing and the absence of input allows the nervous system to reset.

There have been a lot of good suggestions on this site. I too suffered from migraines from a very young age and it was not until I was a teenager that the doctor was finally able to determine I had been telling the truth all along. I never had a migraine triggered by dietary factors, however they were triggered by stress, dehydration (have to drink a lot of water here in AZ), baramoter changes (I usually get a migraine a day before it rains here), and temparature changes (such as cold A/C blowing directly on my head even though it is 100+ outside). An endocrinologist was also able to find a small adenoma on my pituaitary gland and was able to start treatment.

My recommendation would be to ask the pediatrician for a referral to a nuerologist and ear, nose throat doctor for additional testing.

my dd gets migrains and she is 13 but has been getting them for many years. I figured out the trigger was car rides. I didn't know if it was car sickness or the fumes etc...she gets them for sure when we ride in our Diesel Excursion and not so much when we ride in our minivan. I'm not sure if that is helpful or not but sometimes people can figure out the trigger and sometimes it is trickier.

Hi C.!

You may want to check into food sensitivities and look at the "migraine diets" that are out there. Foods can definitely be a trigger and can easily be avoided.

Good Luck!

I got them frequently as a child. My mother would rub the inbetween shoulder & neck area - pretty hard, then I'd lay down for 15 mins & be fine. Her version of pressure points . . but I did find out later that I was allergic to mold. My migraines tended to be worse the longer I was in the house & dependent on how humid it was. So look into his environment when he gets them too - like is it rainy weather or has he been in the house all wkend? It's hard to pin down WHY he might be getting them. My hormones (once I had children-I stopped getting them as frequent) affected them too. You could try an allergy medicine (like Zyrtec/Claritin-for indoor/outdoor allergies). They make them for children now. Good Luck - poor guy!

I had migraines as a kid (not that young tho) and it turned out I needed glasses. Once I got glasses my migraines went away. SO, you might want to get his eyes checked

I suffer from migraines myself and some of the strange things that can trigger them are cheese, chocolate, and some artificial sweeteners that are common in food. Is he sleeping ok at night? I have also noticed that if I sleep too little or too much, I will get a migraine headache. You also want to be careful of using pain medication because you can end up with rebound headaches which are sometimes worse than the first one. Try having him lay in a quiet, dark room and see if that helps his headaches.

The fact that his nose hurts makes me also consider a sinus infection, but the doctor should be able to help you rule that out.

Good luck!!

Food additives, dyes, pesticides, etc can cause them. Try feeding him only organic, whole foods without any additives.

My neice was diagnosed with migraines at three. Take him to a doctor to rule out anything more serious. Diet extremely affects her - particularly certain dyes and sugar substitutes. They had to introduce her to foods slowly to determine the causes - similar to a baby. Finally, medication was limited due to their age, but the doctor recommended a combination of things that her parents can do to make her migraines more manageable. Good luck!

My sister was diagnosed with Migraines at 6 years old after various testing and CAT scans. For my sister she has always seemed to get them when she was really excited about something or when there was a drastic temperature change. The doctor have not been able to find out what is the cause for her, but she is now on preventive medince at 31 that seems to help her. They do run in families, but seem to skip a generation. I began getting them at 23 in college. Good luck. If you want more information I would be happy to help. ____@____.com -A.

Hi C., my 4 year old also seems to get migraines. They do run in my family and I was told by her Ped to not dismiss it if she says she has a headache. I give her some motrin and have her lay on an ice pack. She hasn't gotten to the point of needing anything stronger. I haven't noticed any triggers either, but sometimes they are when I have mine too, due to barometric pressure changes. I wish you the best, and I really feel for your little guy!

Hi C.,

Wow, lots of great advice. Hope it's not too overwhelming.

I spoke with my husband, a Pediatric Neurologist, regarding your son's symptoms. He stated that your son should be seen as soon as possible by a child neurologist, as this is a common age for tumor development in boys. The best specialist for this is Dr. Kara Lewis at The Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, on 3rd Ave. & Thomas, in central Phoenix. She is also a headache specialist.
Their website is: www.thebarrow.org/About_Barrow/Contact_Us/index.htm

Wish you and your family the best of health!

HI C.,

It could be nothing (hope it is:)....but you know your son the best so go with your instinct.
I'm not a Dr., not a medical intuitive, not a homeopath, or herbalist, or any one who has any real concrete knowledge on migraines. My husband suffers from them, and I know that they can come on by a variety of factors and there is a very specific point in the brain where it originates from. I have heard of children developing migrains as well. My friends daughter - who is now in high school has suffered from migraines since she was 3. At three, her parents seperated and her baby sister was born. I'm not saying this started the migraines in this little girl...but many times stressful life experiences can manifest in many different forms in our body. Has anything out of ordinary happened recently that maybe your son is trying to deal with? Research ALL your options and get very very very familiar and knowledgable about migraines or any other diagnoses that could come up, the medications that are given, the natural remedies that are given....know as much as you can about what is happening....because it will help you make the best decision on how to best help your son with whatever he is experiencing.

Much good energy for good health for you and your family.

A.
mom of 4

I swore that my son got them at that age as well. I was shocked because one moment he was fine and then it was down hill. He would complain of not feeling well, having to go lie down, then darting for the bathroom to throwup. I noticed it when he played TOO much for long periods of time, and when it was hot outside and he didn't drink enough water. (I get them in the same situations.) We found some guidelines for him to help prevent them before they got too bad. Taking a break (watching a movie or playing video games) for a little while to give him some rest. (we made it something fun so he wouldn't feel left out). I also continually keep a glass of water or a water bottle full for him so he could drink every time he passed the kitchen. Good luck!

You are getting a lot of good advice in here. I started getting migraines at age 32, but mine were hormonally based.... extremely low estrogen and progesterone. I can't think that a little boy would have the same issues as me. I'd suggest finding a good natural doctor.. an ND, etc. I know of a few really good ones who could possibly help. But I'd sure first try ruling out environmental or food based triggers first. That could do it Also, my husband gets bad sinus headaches and his is due to a deviated septum.. the bones didn't grow right in there. Perhaps your son could have the same?

Oh boy do I understand C.,
I too suffered from migrains as a child. I agree that you need to check out anything physically that could be the cause, like tumers... Not the cause of mine though, they said certain foods triggered mine. I never got a good answer just alot of drugs. Please read the side effects befor you go that rout. I had lost most of my hair in my early 20's due to one of the meds.
I suffered with them for almost 20 years when I found a balanced food supplement that helped me. OK more than helped I have not had a migrain in 12 years! If you want more information just let me know. Good luck with your boy.
R.

C.,

I did not read the 33 responses, but wanted to let you know that it is probably caused by allergies. Visit www.naet.com for a way to non-invasively and naturally ELIMINATE allergies. It was a lifesaver for my son!

Good luck, and let me know if you would like more information from me.
L.

If by "he got sick" you mean he vomited--Take your child to the ER immediately. Headaches and vomiting are huge signs of swelling in the brain, blockages of cerebral spinal fluid flow, tumors, etc. My stepson had a tumor that went undiagnosed for quite some time (born with it & diagnosed at 10)...so I promise I am not just being an alarmist here. Please pay attention to how sleepy he is when he is having headaches. That is another sign that we ignored. We assumed it was hormones and laziness when he wouldn't get out of bed from an uncharacteristic nap for his brother's birthday party. We know now he could have died while we were eating cake. It is better to be safe than sorry! Good luck and forgive me for being so blunt and scary.

IN addition to the doctor, I would consider seeing a "classical homeopath".
B.

I had migraines when I was a little girl, usually brought on by my fathers smoking in a closed car. My parents thought I got car sick, it was the smoke. I avoided the smoke, and stopped having them as an adult.

Also some scented candles and perfumes made my head hurt.

Hi C.,

I haven't had my own experience with a child but my friend did with her son that was having migraines and her doctor had him get his eyes tested and sure enough he needs glasses. Hope this helps.

just to be safe you should have him checked out. i was hit by a car at age 4 and have had migraines since then. i have literally wanted to die sometimes because they are so bad. all i cna tell you is that i know whaen i am going to get one. if i can head it off soetimes it goes aways sometimes it doesnt. i knwo that i am totally helpless until it goes away. even my eylashes hurt so i try not to blink. ther is no way i can do normal things in between and after it is gone i am exhausted and weak. i jsut wantt to sleep. so maybe it could be a sinus thing or even an emtoional thing but it is always a good idea to have himchecked out. almost every time i get a migraine, i throw up, a lot. a couple of times i got dehydrated from throwing up so much i had to be hospitalized. i had the plate in my head changed to a bigger one when i was 18 and that relevied it some. i usually get on or two really bad ones that require visits to the ER or even being admitted about twice a year and then i can pretty much manage on my own the others i get about twice a month

C.,
I hope by now you have taken your child to the ENT. I will have to agree with Colleen on this one, do not mess with your childs health!!! It could be a tumor or even a blood clot. Having a CT scan done will help them find out why your son is having these headaches.

I, myself, had migraines as a young child and then pretty much outgrew them as an adult - although I still get them every now and then. It is very likely that this is what he is experiencing especially if migraines run in your family. Migraines are genetic. Migraines are usually - but not always, triggered by some change in routine that causes a lack of sleep or different sleep patterns. Migraines can also be triggered by certain foods like chocolate and cheese. I find that I am prone to develop some symptoms when I am tired or overly upset or anxious about something. It seems like they happend at times I need them not to happen - the most inconvenient times. He will learn to recognize his own signs of the migraine. For me it was numbness on one side of my body and a heavy feeling in my hand that made it hard to pick things up. Even as a young child, I knew this meant a headache was coming. You might ask him if he is experiencing any numbness. I do not know if they have new technology out there now to help prevent and treat migraines. As a child, I just pretty much had to go to bed and sleep it off with a cool cloth on my head. Good luck with the doctor. I hope you get some ideas.

I get migraines from sinus headaches. You said his nose hurts, so you may want to look up sinuses online and apply slight pressure on those points and then release it see if there is a change. If that is the cause, an antihistamine would help tremendously. I typically follow that up in about 20 minutes with Tylenol.

If you are not able to figure it out on your own, swing by the pediatrician, never hurts to ask the dr.

Hi! C.,
Yes, young ones can get migraines although not common. Glad you are going to see the doctor. Make sure he explores all avenues because a 4 year old should not be getting heachaches like that. Migraines are inherited. Does anyone from either side of your family (husbands and yours) have migraines?
Triggers for migraines can include: Monosodium Glutamate, nitrates, nitrites, aged cheese (meaning sharp cheeses), some food colorings, citrus, bright flashing lights (even a flourescent bulb that is twitching can cause one), changes in sleep patterns, low blood sugar, too much/little caffeine, stress,certain odors, weather and the one that I can't let go of...chocolate!!! I could not take my son to Micky D's or other fast food places. The chicken products...nuggets, etc, KFC, ALL have MSG in them in fast food places. Flavored potato chips, cheetos, Ranch dressing, canned soups & sauces to name a few. You have to start becoming a label reader. You are doing the correct thing by taking him to the doc. Ask for a referral for a Pediatric Neurologist when you see your doc. They see more of this than your regular doctor. Good luck, and happy label reading!

Have you checked him for allergies? Allergies will trigger Migrains. I know that chocolate and some scents (ie: parfumes, soaps, cleaning supplies etc) trigger migrains in me.

Migraines can be cause by several different things.. They can be brought on by stress (yes 4yr olds can have stress), lack of sleep, straining on the eyes etc...Definately get him checked because as it is common for them to get them it is still uncommon for that age.. My daughter got them starting at 11yrs old (I have cronic migraines so I know how they hurt)When he gets them just put him in a dark area were he can just lay & rest.. Try giving him childrens Mortin instead of the Tylenol because the Motrin has Ibprofren in it which helps better.. Hope he feels better & he grows out of them..

Hi C.,
My husband and I suffer from migraines and we have an 8.5 year old who has been suffering from them since he was five. The first one he had scared the living daylights out of me! Living here in the desert, becoming dehydrated can bring them on. He also went to see the Suessical and came home with one from the ampitheater, but he seems fine when we take him to the movies? In any case, we give him children's motrin and that seems to work best along with rest and being left in a dark room with little to no noise. He usually sleeps them off.
I'm glad that you've made an appt. to see your doctor who will hopefully not find anything more than what I've already told you. If you have any questions or would like to talk, please feel free to contact me. ____@____.com Good luck.

If it just started happening over the past day or so, it could be a sinus infection, especially since he's not feeling well and complaining of his nose hurting. I have had both migraines and sinus infections and the splitting headaches have been very similar. I don't know what age I was when the migraines started but my mom said I was young. My 8 yr old has been getting them for about a year now and we have a CT scan on Tues. just to rule out anything serious. I also noticed that she is VERY sensitive to smells. We have a diesel Excursion too and at first thought it was the exhaust but it appears that everytime she rides in the car....regardless of make or model....she gets a headache. We even had her eyes checked and then got her a new pair of glasses but that hasn't helped. I hope she grows out of them like I did cuz they just aren't any fun!! Good luck!

E.

I'm afraid you may be in for a bit of work...which is the case even with adult migraines. Yes, children can get migraines. They can be as you describe, and also manifest themselves as abdominal migraines. There are prophylactic treatments available. A specialist may have you put your child on an elimination diet, to rule out certain triggers. There are quite a few things that can trigger a migraine...you can google migraine triggers to find some of them. Or you may find that your child has food or other allergies causing this reaction. Your pediatrician can refer you to a pediatric gastroenterologist (this is how we found out about the abdominal migraines), or to a neurologist. Be aware also that certain medications can cause or make migraines worse...decongestants are one of them. And the fact that his nose hurts may be a sign of a sinus problem. A neurologist can order painless tests (such as MRIs and other scans) to rule out any serious problems. The good news is that migraines are treatable and sometimes somewhat controlled and preventable. A good combination of diet, medication, enough sleep and exercise can really help. I hope your child feels better soon and that you find the root of the problem. Take care.

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