Acute recurrent headaches that last for 2 to 4 hours and occur periodically are termed as migraine headaches. With the growing civilization, the incidence of migraine cases is increasing and sadly young adolescent boys and girls are also the victims. Dealing with these adolescent migraine cases is not easy, as they involve lot of emotional and psychological issues as well. Especially the cases that involve disability to carry on day to day activities need significant attention.
Incidence- Childhood migraine cases are found more in boys than girls; however, as they reach adolescent age group, more girls are affected than boys. Same trend continues in adulthood. More than 70% cases of migraine have positive family history and one or more immediate family members usually suffer from the same. Though migraine is a very debilitating illness, it usually does not lead to any significant bodily problem, neither are stroke or brain tumors linked with the migraine.
Causes of Migraine- In any age group, until recently the vascular system was blamed for occurrence of migraine headache. It was primarily thought to be due to constriction and expansion of blood vessels in the brain. However, it is now considered more of a CNS disorder primarily due to disturbance in the brain and nerves and secondarily due to blood vessels. Changes in the level of circulating neurotransmitters are thought to be among the primary causes.
Types of Migraine in Adolescence-
1) Classical Migraine– This is an episodic migraine with aura. In adolescent age group, usually the attack of migraine starts in early or late mornings. An aura can be said as a warning sign before an attack of migraine that may begin about 10 to 30 minutes before the onset of headache. Blurred vision, spots before vision, giddy spells, sudden nausea, etc are the common auras experienced by the migraine sufferer.
2) Common Migraine– This is commoner form of migraine that occurs without any aura. Some forms of complicated migraines also may occur in a few individuals, those associated with ophthalmic problems, confusion, and/or hemiplegia, etc; however such complications are rare during adolescence.
Important Migraine Triggers in Adolescence-
1) Stress– In any age group, stress can be considered as the major factor that leads to onset of migraine headache. Especially adolescent age group undergoes lot of mental and emotional turmoil due to social, academic, and familial tensions. Stress management, psychotherapy to handle stress better, involving in some enjoyable hobby, etc are some of the strategies that help conquer such migraines.
2) Menstruation– Menstrual migraines are pretty common in adolescent girls, which may be due to hormonal influences.
3) Abnormal eating patterns– with the increasing stress and modern lifestyle, many adolescent boys and girls have irregular and junk eating habits. Certain types of food like coffee, chocolates, etc act as triggers in certain youngsters. Also remaining empty stomach beyond the normal gastric emptying time (4 hours) can set the attack of migraine.
4) Medicines– certain medicines like Oral Contraceptive Pills, drugs used for asthma, stimulants, etc can result in recurrent migraine headaches. Understanding the bad effects o drugs and taking appropriate precautions to stop those drugs need expert advice.
5) Alcohol– more and more adolescents are getting addicted to alcohol, the major trigger from migraine. Expansion of the arteries of the brain is the cause. Identifying the trigger factors is one of the major steps in treating your migraine. Take apt steps to prevent these triggers and this will help in lengthening the headache-free periods and even reduce the intensity of attacks.
Treatment of Migraine in Adolescence- Medicinal therapy can always be started any time for any age group. But one should make efforts initially and during the medicinal course to cut the triggers and improve the lifestyle and diet. Here is the checklist-
— Maintaining a headache diary helps one understand the headache-free periods between the attacks
— Avoid over-the-counter medication as far as possible. Increase use of such drugs can actually increase the intensity of headaches
— Never skip meals, especially morning breakfast
— Drinking ample water (at least 8 to 10 glasses)
— Take steps to reduce stress; relaxation techniques can help a great deal
— Exercise regularly
— Re-schedule your sleep; you must get at least 8 hours of sleep at a stretch
— Take medicines properly as per the guidelines and give apt follow-up
Homeopathic Treatment of Migraine in adolescence–
Homeopathy, as we know is a holistic method of treating patients. Same approach is (or should be) maintained when it comes to treating migraine cases in any age group. One cannot take just the diagnosis of migraine into account while treating these types of episodic headaches homeopathically. Complete physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the patients should be given importance and remedy found after careful evaluation. Symptomatic approach is the best suited approach in any migraine case and rarely have I come across a migraine case that fails to respond to efficient homeopathic therapy. In adolescence age group, proper psychological counseling and stress management are important auxiliary regimens to be advised by homeopathic expert.