Chapter 3, Episode 4: Migraine At Different Ages


This content has been medically reviewed by Caroline Stowe, DNP, FNP-BC, AQH.

What does migraine look like in people of different ages? Experts suspect that several conditions occurring in infants, children, and elderly people may be related to migraine disease, or may even be variations of migraine across the life cycle. 

During the first few months of life, some babies have colic which is when they cry more than normal without apparent injury or illness. Studies show that babies with colic are more likely to develop migraine by age eighteen than babies without colic. Also, mothers with migraine are more likely to have babies with colic than mothers without migraine. 

Another childhood condition that may occur is benign paroxysmal torticollis. Babies and toddlers with this condition hold their heads tilted to one side for minutes to days and may experience vomiting, pale skin, irritability, impaired balance and/or general discomfort during an episode. 

Benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood occurs in children aged two to eight. Episodes are characterized by sudden, random attacks of vertigo that last a few minutes to hours and may include a loss of coordination, vomiting, pale skin, nystagmus or fearfulness. 

Two other childhood conditions that may be part of a person’s migraine lifecycle are cyclic vomiting syndrome or abdominal migraine. With cyclic vomiting syndrome, children may have intense bouts of nausea and vomiting for hours or days but may have symptom-free periods for weeks or months. Although it often resolves by puberty, some people will experience this syndrome throughout adolescence and into adulthood. 

Similarly, abdominal migraine presents as severe stomach pain that lasts for a few hours to a few days, sometimes accompanied by nausea or vomiting. Both cyclic vomiting syndrome and abdominal migraine may include sensitivity to light and sound, like with migraine.

Children with colic, benign paroxysmal torticollis, benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood, cyclic vomiting syndrome or abdominal migraine commonly have a family history of migraine and are more likely to develop migraine later in life. 

Following these childhood conditions, adolescents and adults may begin to experience typical migraine symptoms such as one-sided head pain along with nausea or vomiting and/or sensitivity to light and/or sound. However, not all adults with migraine experience childhood manifestations of the disease.

Hormonal changes during life, such as with pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause, may affect the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. People can continue to have migraine attacks into their sixties and beyond, especially if they had chronic migraine when younger, but in general attacks decrease or go away completely for older adults.

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This video is sponsored in part by Amgen and Praxis.


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*The contents of this video are intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. AMD does not recommend or endorse any treatment, products, or procedures mentioned. Reliance on any information provided by this content is solely at your own risk.