Adolescent Migraine

A lot of people get migraines including teenagers. As many as 1 out of 10 adolescents suffer from migraine headaches. These headaches are more common among teenage girls, suggesting that hormones may play a role. Heredity may also be a factor. Approximately 70 percent of migraine sufferers have an immediate family member who also experiences these headaches.


What causes migraines?

During a migraine, blood vessels in the brain swell, causing irritations and pain in the surrounding area. While the exact cause of the swelling is not known, a variety of external factors can trigger these episodes. Specific migraine triggers for adolescents include:


  • External stress-resulting from school, friends, relationships and family problems.

  • Lack of sleep-“burning the candle at both ends” as teens often do.

  • Changes in diet-skipping meals which can lower the body’s blood sugar level, consuming caffeine, certain food additives like MSG (a season used in some foods), or eating too many nitrate-containing foods such as hot dogs.

  • Some medications-such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills) and asthma.

  • Even the weather-storm fronts and sudden changes in barometric pressure.



Why should my child participate in this clinical research study?


Remember, there are currently no migraine medications tested for safety and effectiveness in adolescents. By participating in this clinical research study, your child will have access to a study medication and close monitoring of their symptoms, a level of care and attention not always possible outside of a clinical setting.



The first line of defense is often lifestyle modification and taking good care of oneself. By avoiding headache “triggers” many teens can reduce the number of severity of their headaches. However, for those teens with frequent and severe headaches, medications to treat and prevent migraines are often needed. These medications include:


  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): these medications include aspirin and ibuprofen, which reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Sleep products: Both prescription and nonprescription medications may be used to induce much needed sleep which can help relieve migraine.

  • Prescription migraine medications: These medications have been proven safe and effective for adults but not among children and adolescents.

  • Other medications: Antidepressants, beta blockers and even antihistamines may also be used.