San Diego – Migraine headaches in teens are common, disabling, and substantially under-treated, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 58th Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif., April 1 – 8, 2006. A migraine is a recurring, throbbing headache that usually occurs on one side of the head that can cause extreme pain, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as nausea and vomiting.
The study surveyed 18,714 adolescents ages 12 –19. Researchers analyzed whether children with migraines sought help for their symptoms from over-the-counter drugs, prescribed medicines, both, or sought preventative treatment from their doctors.
The study found that in a one-year period 5 percent of boys and 7.7 percent of girls had frequent migraines. “Migraine in children has rarely been studied, and the findings revealed that boys are nearly as likely as girls to experience migraines,” said study author Paul Winner, DO, FAAN. “Previous studies in adults have shown that females were generally much more susceptible.” About 60 percent of adolescents with migraine used only over-the-counter drugs to alleviate their symptoms. Another 17 percent relied on only prescription treatments, while 22 percent used both over-the-counter and prescription drugs to counter migraine symptoms.
Even fewer teens are taking medicines to prevent migraines. Of the 31 percent of adolescents who met the criteria for preventative treatment only 19 percent received it. Of the patients who never used preventative medicine 24 percent were eligible for preventative treatment.
“Parents with teenagers who have severe headaches should talk with their doctor about the possibility that they are having migraine attacks,” said Winner. “Not only can they about treating their migraine symptoms but they can also find ways to prevent future migraine.”
The study was supported by the National Headache Foundation through a grant from Ortho-McNeil Neurologics, Inc.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 19,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, autism and multiple sclerosis.
For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.
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Editor's Notes: Dr. Winner will present this research during a scientific platform session at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4 in room 1AB of the San Diego Convention Center.
He will be available for media questions during a briefing at 2:00 p.m. Monday, April 3 in the on-site Press Interview Room, room 16 B. All listed times are for Pacific Time (PT).
AAN Press Room in the San Diego Convention Center April 1 - April 7, 2006 contact (619) 525-6207