CINCINNATI - Back-to-school means migraines for some klds, but not for reasons you might think
Cincinnati Children's Hospital specialists report seeing a spike in the number of children in their inpatient neurology unit during August, September and October.
But it's not psychological stressors triggering migraines.
Director of Neurology Dr. Andrew Hershey says it's actually physical stressors that school puts on students.
Simple things like lack of sleep and or skipping breakfast can trigger a migraine, Hershey said.
"Schools aren’t as well organized for the lifestyle of kids as they should be," Hershey said. "The CDC actually 15 years ago reported our schools start too early. They updated a year ago and said we still started kids too early in school. That leads to sleep deprivation, so not getting enough sleep leads to migraines. Skipping meals, a lot of kids that are rushed in the morning will skip breakfast.”
It's important to note that migraines are not headaches. Migraines are a genetically inherited neurological disease. Hershey said. Headaches are symptoms of migraines.
"A lot of people misconceive what a migraine is," Hershey said. "They think a migraine is severe, disabling, locked up in a dark room throwing up. That's not necessarily the case. Migraines are typically an episodic disorder, so it comes and goes. Usually associated with a throbbing headache, usually part of your head hurts, not the whole head, although it can spread to the whole head. And oftentimes associated with light and sound sensitivity.
"Where a lot of people make a mistake is migraines are moderate to severe in intensity, so they don't have to be severe," he said.
The bottom line -- kids need at least 8-9 hours of sleep and have to eat breakfast. It's actually better to eat an unhealthy breakfast than to skip it entirely.