Why keep track of a child’s migraine?

photo of girl writing in a notebook

A majority of clinicians suggest keeping track of a child’s migraine. Why is a record of migraine episodes so important? 

The four main reasons for keeping track of a child’s migraine are to:

  1. Spot patterns and potential triggers
  2. Help doctors assess which strategies help
  3. Support the right diagnosis & treatment plan
  4. Help child gain a sense of control 

Let’s look into those in more detail. 

Spot patterns & migraine triggers

While the clinician might be the one asking you to keep track of your child’s migraine, a diary also helps you as a parent to spot patterns and potential triggers. This allows you to avoid triggers (e.g. certain foods) or learn how to manage others (e.g. school stress). 

Figuring out triggers on your own can be challenging. Some can’t find a pattern, while others see a potential trigger in everything. Usually, there are several triggers at once playing their part. While a salty pizza after a stressful school day can be fine one day, it might be too much on another day. We don’t always know what’s going on in our children’s mind and they themselves do not always realise how e.g. a fight with a friend can influence their migraine. 

Assessment and diagnosis by doctors

For a doctor, a good diary offers a baseline with which they can compare your future records. Hence, they can assess what type of medication, therapy, or other strategy worked to what extent. 

By keeping track of a child’s migraine, you can find triggers together with your doctor and they also can make a more accurate diagnosis. Hence, right treatment options can be found more quickly. Dr Woeber, Head of the Headache Department at the University Clinic for Neurology Vienna, says that for children with regular migraine episodes, lifestyle education and changes are the most important. To support positive change, he has to understand how the child’s current lifestyle looks like.

The importance of a child’s input 

young girl and mother keep track of child's migraine together
Involving children in migraine tracking gives them a sense of control.

It is essential that the main person responsible for keeping track of a child’s migraine is the child itself. Of course, parents should provide their support, especially for younger children, but the active engagement of the child cannot be left out. Multiple studies highlight a so-called ‘parental underreport’ in families with a child suffering from migraine. Parents tend to underestimate the prevalence of headaches or migraine. Collecting information from both parents and children can be vital for the effective management and prevention of migraine’s severe consequences on a child’s quality of life.

Although your child might not want to have anything to do with their migraine initially, their active involvement helps them to take control of their condition step-by-step. 

So, how do you involve your child in their migraine tracking? Let us know your methods in the comments below. 

Sources

Parent-Child Agreement in the Reporting of Headaches in a National Sample of Adolescents
Self-reported headache in schoolchildren: Parents underestimate their children’s headaches
The role of your child and of supervising adults

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