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Was it a Migraine?

Last Friday evening my son had his normal ice hockey game. For some reason they were a bit short on players and there was only one extra player, which meant the kids play many more shifts than normal.

After the game my son came over and complained that his head really hurt and that he was extremely thirsty. Of course, I asked him where his water bottle was and he had forgotten it. That means he had played a hard game of ice hockey and had nothing to drink.

When we got home he got some water but started vomiting shortly thereafter. His appetite was gone, his head was pounding and all he wanted to do was sleep. He woke up a hour later asking for Motrin, but again he threw up. Back on the couch he went, toting a bucket this time, and off to sleep he went.

Fourteen hours and no more puke later, my son woke up feeling fine. He said he felt like he had been hit by a truck, but even that went away after eating some breakfast.

So was it a migraine? I seem to think it was. We have a family history of it, he has had them before, and he had at least three of the classic migraine symptoms:

  • abdominal pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • throbbing headache
  • specific location of pain
  • associated “aura”
  • relief with sleep (headaches that awaken children, or early morning headaches, are probably not migraines – -they might be signs of a brain tumor)
  • family history of migraines

As many as 5% of school age kids get migraines at some point. Knowing what triggers them is very useful for preventing or reducing their severity. Triggers include:

  • Strong or unusual odors, bright lights or loud noises
  • Changes in weather or altitude
  • Being tired, stressed or depressed
  • Changes in sleeping patterns or sleeping time
  • Certain foods (see the list below), especially those that contain tyramine, sodium nitrate or phenylalanine
  • Missing meals or fasting
  • Menstrual periods or hormones
  • Intense physical activity

We have been very good about controlling his headaches in the past year, but something tells me this was a reminder not to let down our guard or forget the water bottle again!

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