The lifestyle factors for treating migraines

Child Neurologist Jane Tavyev Asher, MD, shares advice for parents on the lifestyle factors, such as diet, sleep, and exercise, that play a role in determining proper treatment for children with migraines
Lifestyle Factors That Affect Treating Migraines In Children
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

The lifestyle factors for treating migraines

So the first step to treating migraines is to get a good headache log. I try to get the patients to take home a headache log and write down every time they have a migraine. That way we can see if there were possibly any triggers that may be associated with that that we would be able to eliminate. These might be associated with certain foods that they eat, or a lack of sleep, a lack of eating, or overheating. Different people have different triggers. The next step is to take a look at what their lifestyle looks like. The biggest lifestyle factors that I look at and that I see as problematic in the kids that I see are sleep, water intake, and food intake. So most of the kids that I see with migraines are not getting enough sleep. They're not aware of the number of hours that are required for each age group for sleep. And kids with with migraines, or migraineurs as they are called, actually need more sleep oftentimes than other kids. For example, teenagers with migraines need over 9 hours of sleep, possibly up to 10 hours of sleep, as opposed to regular teenagers who may be fine with 9 or between 8 and 9 hours of sleep. The other thing I look at is to make sure they're drinking enough water. Dehydration can certainly be a trigger for migraines for many people. And the third thing I look at is food intake. If you go for many hours without eating, then their drop in blood sugar can be a trigger for a migraine headache for someone who is susceptible to that. There are a number of possible food triggers in migraines. MSG is one possible food trigger. People know that it's present in Chinese food, but it's also hidden in some other types of processed foods such as orange-colored chips and other foods that you wouldn't necessarily expect to find it in. Nitrates can also be a trigger for migraines. These are present in lunch meats. Some people also have their migraines triggered by caffeine. Caffeine can actually be used to help a migraine headache. But if someone drinks caffeine on a regular basis, then that caffeine withdrawal can be a trigger for migraines if they skip a day. There can be other food triggers that are specific to different people. That's why we ask people to keep a headache log of specific food triggers or circumstances that might trigger their headaches.

Child Neurologist Jane Tavyev Asher, MD, shares advice for parents on the lifestyle factors, such as diet, sleep, and exercise, that play a role in determining proper treatment for children with migraines


Expert Bio

More from Expert

Jane Tavyev Asher, MD

Division of Child Neurology - Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Jane Tavyev Asher is a board certified Child Neurologist and Director of the Division of Child Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  Upon attaining her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine, she completed residency/ fellowship training in Child Neurology and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at Baylor College of Medicine/ Texas Children’s Hospital, where her clinical training focused on behavioral neurology, specializing in autism and other developmental disorders, and her research focused on epigenetic factors in autism.  She currently maintains a clinical practice at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she sees patients with a variety of neurologic conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, developmental delay, ADHD, learning disabilities, tics, headaches, and cognitive/ behavioral management in neuromuscular disorders.  She holds an academic/ research appointment as Assistant Professor at UCLA in the Departments of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.  Her current research interest remains in the area of autism.  Dr. Tavyev Asher is proud to contribute to the training of the next generation of physicians including those specializing in Pediatrics, Child Psychiatry, and Child and Adult Neurology, and she enjoys giving talks on various neurologic topics locally and nationally.  She is a member of the Child Neurology Society, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UCLA CART (Center for Autism Research and Treatment), and The Help Group-UCLA Autism Research Alliance.  She also serves on the Advisory Board of Healthy Child Healthy Child Healthy World.  She enjoys art, music, yoga, skiing, and relaxing with her family.

More Parenting Videos from Jane Tavyev Asher, MD >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter