Children's Hospital Colorado

Vestibular Migraines in Children

Kids aren’t just mini adults. In fact, they’re incredibly different. That’s why they need incredibly different care.

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What is a vestibular migraine?

Vestibular migraines are one of the most common vestibular disorders, affecting up to 3% of the general population. While typical migraines usually cause pounding headaches and pain, vestibular migraines may involve a different set of symptoms. Children with vestibular migraines may complain of dizziness, unsteadiness, or nausea with or without vomiting. They may also say that it seems like objects in their visual field are moving, or that they are bothered by bright lights, loud sounds or strong smells.

What causes vestibular migraines?

Many of the same triggers for migraine headaches can trigger vestibular migraines. These episodes appear to result from overlapping brain pathways that control both pain and vestibular inputs (things related to the inner ear and a person’s sense of balance) in the brain.

Vestibular migraines in children or adolescents are sometimes preceded by another form of early childhood migraines called benign vertigo of childhood (BVC). Vestibular migraines can also be brought on by hormone changes during puberty.

Who gets vestibular migraines?

Many times, vestibular migraines occur in children with a family history of migraines. Women tend to suffer from migraines more than men, and symptoms may get worse around menstruation. Children who have a history of motion sickness, benign vertigo of childhood or who have a family history of migraines tend to be more susceptible to vestibular migraines.

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