migraine, a poorly diagnosed chronic disease, does not spare children

“Misunderstood, little taught in the medical world, migraine in children concerns before puberty as many little boys as little girls”, explained Thursday Anne Donnet, neurologist, head of the Center for the evaluation and treatment of pain at the Timone hospital in Marseille.

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Stress: a little is fine, a lot, hello damage

It is reputed to harm cardiovascular health, libido, fertility… All of this is true, when stress becomes chronic. But that would be to forget that this reaction of the organism, which stimulates the secretion of hormones enabling adaptation to stressful situations, also has beneficial effects.

real disease

However, migraine is a real disease, which is characterized by the regular and repetitive occurrence of violent headaches, sometimes associated with vomiting.

It is from the first menstrual cycles that the frequency of migraines becomes more important in girls.

For Maïwenn Colléaux, 18, the migraines started around 14-15 years old, even if her first headaches date back to childhood. “It immediately changed my daily life: when I was in crisis, I no longer went out, my social life stopped, I could no longer go to school”, she said Thursday during a press conference organized by the association La Voix des Migraineux. “Of course, we feel different from the other children, who did not really understand my suffering and for whom I had a simple headache”.

Complicated diagnosis

Its diagnosis and management are even more complicated than for adults because the symptoms are often mistaken for digestive disorders.

Childhood migraine is as disabling as adult migraine: 50% have more than one attack per month and 78% have a moderate to severe attack intensity. 40% have nausea or vomiting, 33% abdominal pain.

“The majority of patients we see in consultation arrive around 10 years old, but the headaches often started before,” said Justine Have-Couturier, pediatrician in neurology at the Lille University Hospital. “We cannot eradicate migraine, but we can reduce its frequency and intensity”.

Stress and tiredness

While many factors can cause a migraine, stress and fatigue are often identified by patients.

On the treatment side, paracetamol, anti-inflammatories or specific crisis treatments are generally prescribed (triptans, whose marketing authorization in France is from the age of 12).

Resistant to drugs, Maïwenn Colléaux has for her part “tried everything”: self-hypnosis, hypnotherapy, equitherapy, EMDR… “These methods soothe me at the time but do not work in the long term. When I’m in crisis, I don’t take anything, I wait for it to pass”.

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