Q: Why do teenagers need to be treated for migraine?
A: The triggers for a migraine attack are as important for adolescents as for children and adults. Modern society expects a great deal from young people. Their schedules are frequently overcrowded and their diets are often less than ideal. It is very important that migraine is diagnosed and aggressively treated during puberty. Many of the adults treated in headache clinics for chronic daily headache (more than 15 headache days per month) started experiencing symptoms during their teenage years.
Q: How do hormonal changes at puberty in girls contribute to migraine attacks?
A: For most females, the first migraine attack occurs during puberty or a year or two before that. If migraine attacks have started at a younger age, they often increase in frequency the year before menstruation starts. The sex hormones progesterone and estrogen released at puberty not only change the physical appearance of the body but also have effects on brain cell function. It is thought that changes in levels of estrogen are usually responsible for increased migraine in girls around the time of puberty.
Q: How do hormonal changes at puberty affect boys with migraine?
A: For boys at puberty there is a rapid increase in levels of the sex hormone testosterone. For reasons that are not clear, these hormonal changes often lead to a decrease in the frequency of migraine attacks. This does not mean men do not have migraine. Their migraine attacks are more like the attacks seen in children before puberty. Boys appear to have fewer attacks than girls at puberty.
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