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ADHD and Migraine
March 2003

Q. I was recently told by another adult that her child suffers from ADHD and migraines. The mom said her child took a medication that covered both. What prescription covers both ADHD and migraines?

A. Migraine headaches are a frequent cause of suffering and disability, estimated to affect 30 million Americans. A typical migraine description would be a pounding headache on one side of the head that can last several hours. Ten to twenty percent of migraine patients report an "aura", namely a visual disturbance, that precede the headache. The headaches can occur a few times a year in some persons, and one or more times a week in others. It is important to identify trigger factors if possible, circumstances that tend to cause migraine for a particular individual. This can include caffeine, fatigue, bright light, certain foods, and other factors. Numerous medications are available for migraine prevention and treatment, and the choice is quite individualized. Your doctor can guide you in this regard.

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is increasingly recognized in children and adults. Like the name implies, it is characterized by difficulty paying attention and excess motor activity. In a child this can cause significant school problems as the child can be quite disruptive in class, and have difficulty with school assignments although intelligence is quite normal.

This disorder is thought to be due to an imbalance in some to the brain's chemical transmitters, although there is no specific test to make the diagnosis. Formal evaluation is needed, often on referral from the school. Behavioral measures are very important, such as a predictable and quiet environment, i.e. a smaller class size, and similar measures at home. Drug treatment in children is usually only considered after formal testing and treatment as described.




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