Treating Migraine in Children Versus Adults: Christina Szperka, MD, MSCE

The director of the Pediatric Headache Program at CHOP broke down the treatment of pediatric migraine into 3 different pieces: lifestyle habits, acute treatment, and preventive therapies. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

“In the area of diagnosis, children's migraines may act a little bit differently…Sometimes children don't necessarily report that they're bothered by light or sound, but you can figure it out from their behavior, right? If they want their siblings to be quiet, or they run away to a dark room, things like that, where you can just get a bit more from the observation—there may be some slight differences.”

When treating migraine in children, there are differences that set pediatric patients apart from their adult counterparts with the same condition. These can include variations in duration, as migraines may be shorter for children than adults, as well as a lower frequency of aura that may evolve with age.

According to Christina Szperka, MD, MSCE, director of the Pediatric Headache Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, headache will feel similar in both children and adults, as it can be debilitating and may come and go in waves. In conversation with NeurologyLive®, Szperka broke down specific treatment approaches pediatric migraine, which can be broken down into 3 pieces: lifestyle habits, acute treatment, and preventive therapies. 

Although a healthy lifestyle is recommended for everyone, for pediatric migraine, Szperka highlighted the need to maintain a consistent schedule, stay hydrated, eat well, and get enough sleep. Recommendations such as these must be realistic, she said, and practitioners should be careful about implementing changes that are the most effective for the individual patient. In terms of therapies, there is evidence for anti-inflammatory medications as a first line for all patients, with triptans next up for adolescent patients. Preventive therapies may be more effective for children with more frequent headache, which can include treatment devices or vitamins, rather than strictly medication, Szperka said. 

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