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Long- and Short-Term Caregiving With Migraine and Chronic Daily Headache

My friend and I managed to reciprocate caring for each other all weekend. I made dinner Friday; Saturday she made me a pie. I held babies (like that was a sacrifice!); she taught me to make crepes. Since we’re both caregivers by nature, we were both happy.

It was a bad weekend pain and nausea-wise. I shoveled in Advil and caffeine and napped, so I still enjoyed the trip. Although our friends said the twins were particularly fussy Saturday, their cries didn’t increase my pain. In fact, knowing that their needs came first may have distracted me.

Being around babies we love always makes us wonder if we would/could/should have kids. Today the answer is no.

  • Our friends we always nearby, so we never had full responsibility. Whenever it got to be too much for me, a parent took over.
  • We were at our friends’ house for less than 48 hours.
  • We didn’t do any nighttime shifts.
  • I was completely spent when Saturday night rolled around.

These sound like the typical excuses people give for not having kids. Maybe they are, but my chronic illness changes what they mean for me. My migraines are worse than I give them credit for. Lack of sleep is a huge trigger for me. I’m exhausted a lot of the time anyway. The hours Hart and I spend together when I feel good are precious few.

Then there’s the biggest factor. When I met the girls, I thought “Uh, oh, am I going to want a baby after this weekend?” Nope. The girls were wonderful and I loved holding and soothing them. I just didn’t feel a burning desire. If I had, I would certainly find a way to make it work, even at the expense of my health. Right now, the trade off isn’t worth it to me.

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Children & Headaches

Nearly every child has a headache at some point. Like in adults, an occasional headache is normal. Although headaches are typically benign, they could signal something serious. If kids have headaches frequently or the headache seems different than usual, it’s time to see a doctor.

Contact a doctor if your child’s headaches:

  • Occur at least once a month
  • Keep him or her out of school
  • Follow an injury, such as a blow to the head
  • Awaken him or her from sleep
  • Feature persistent vomiting or visual changes
  • Are accompanied by fever, along with neck pain or stiffness

Causes of headaches in children include a genetic predisposition (especially to migraine), head trauma, illness and infection, environmental factors, emotional factors, and certain foods and beverages. See the Mayo Clinic article in the above link for details about these causes.

Information comes from the Mayo Clinic. See Headaches in Children: Common, But Sometimes Serious to learn about causes, types of headaches, diagnosis and treatment. The National Headache Foundation also has a guide to children’s headaches, which even has a section for kids to explore.

Your child having headaches isn’t a reason to panic, but it isn’t something to ignore.

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Recognizing & Treating Children’s Migraines

Up to 10% of school-age children have migraine. Think a child or teenager that you love might be one of them? Listen to Children’s Migraines: How to Recognize and Treat Them, today’s HealthTalk webcast, to learn more.

The hour-long show starts at 7 p.m. EST tonight, Wednesday, July 18. About 10 minutes before the webcast, go to the program’s description page and look for a link that says “Join the Program.” If you miss the live show, it will be available archived by the end of the week.

A. David Rothner, MD, and Donald W. Lewis, MD, will be guests on the show. Their impressive bios are available on the webcast program page.

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Migraine News: Migraines May Ease With Age, Parents’ Influence on Kids’ Migraines, More Poor Teens Have Migraine

I’ve neglected news lately and haven’t shared a lot of good stuff with you. I’m catching up over the holiday weekend.

Migraines May Ease With Age: In Swedish Study, Most Patients’ Attacks Decreased or Disappeared Over 12-Year Follow-Up

Good news for most migraine sufferers: With age, you can expect to get fewer, less- painful migraine attacks that don’t last as long, a new study from Sweden suggests.

“It does seem that in most people migraine is not a progressive disease,” says Carl Dahlof, M.D., Ph.D. . . .

Poorer Teens May Get More Migraines: Stress, Poor Diet, and Less Medical Care May Be Linked to Migraines in Teens

Poorer teenagers may be more likely to suffer from migraine headaches than richer teens.

Genetics play a big part in determining the risk of developing painful migraine headaches, but a new study suggests that family income may also play a role in migraine risk.

Researchers say psychiatric factors — such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse — were not examined in this study and may help explain the results. . . .

“Our study also suggests that we should explore environmental risk factors, such as stressful events and nutrition, as they relate to low income and migraine to understand how we might reduce the occurrence of migraine among these individuals,” says Bigal.

Also: If No Genetic Link, Family Income Affects Migraine Risk (MedPage Today)

Do Parents Play A Role In Their Kids’ Migraine Pain? Study: How Much Headache Pain Is Genetic, How Much Is Mimicked?

[A]re children feeling the same levels of pain as adults, or are they simply reacting to it in the same way?

Dr. Pakalnis has launched a study to find out just how much is learned. She’s noticed that when talking to adults and kids separately, there is a difference. Kids tend to report less pain and disability, but the adults…

“They tend to over-report their child’s perception of pain from their migraine headaches compared to parents or guardians that don’t have a chronic pain problem,” says Dr. Pakalnis.

In other words, parents who have migraines might be projecting their pain onto their kids. That could lead to unnecessary treatment or excessive medication. It’s important to understand that no one doubts these kids suffer from migraines. But doctors say if they can better understand their individual level of pain, they can develop individual treatments that are best for them.

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News From the American Headache Society’s Annual Meeting

If I wait to write about news from the American Headache Society’s annual meeting in depth, it may never get posted. So here are the headlines and links to AHS’s press releases.

Insurance, Cost Issues Prevent People From Treating Migraines

Insurance companies often limit the number of migraine pills people are allowed each month, so many sufferers forgo taking the medication when they need it because they’re afraid of running out. . . .

That translates into many people unnecessarily living with potentially disabling migraine pain and suffering poorer quality of life than they would have if they took their medication when needed.

Killer Headaches Play Starring Role On The Silver Screen, But Don’t Reflect The Real World

Horrendous headaches make fabulous movie plot devices and are often the result of such dramatic situations as a tumor, toxic poisoning or device implanted in the brain, rather than something as banal as a migraine. . . .

“Yes, we know movies are fantasy, but they also are very effective at formulating public opinion. So many people already worry about what causes their headaches and this is not a good way to reassure them.”

In the real world, the vast majority of head pain is “primary,” meaning the cause typically is migraine, tension or cluster headache. Unlike in the movies, headaches are far less often due to “secondary” causes, such as head trauma, stroke, aneurysms, infection or tumors and never – at least to the knowledge of medical science – by a brain-control device.

Three-Item Questionnaire Helps School Nurses Identify Students With Migraines

A simple questionnaire can help school nurses identify students who get migraine headaches, a problem that affects one in 10 children and teens but often goes undiagnosed. The three-question Pediatric and Adolescent
Migraine Screen (PAMS) is an accurate measurement of migraine that easily can be used by school nurses. . . .

“Although PAMS is not a final diagnostic tool, using it to screen and possibly refer children for appropriate diagnosis of migraine can greatly improve these kids’ quality of life, including their ability to participate in school, sports and other extracurricular activities,” said Dr. Kabbouche.