How Migraine Pain Changes as You Age

Good news: migraine is one of the few conditions that improves over time.

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To say that dealing with chronic migraines is a pain would be an understatement. Though migraine episodes can be extremely debilitating, there is hope for young patients—your symptoms and severity of migraine pain may change throughout your life, often decreasing with age.

How Children Experience Migraine

Before age 12, children might present with nausea, frequent vomiting, and stomach aches rather than typical headaches. These kids often grow up to be teens and adults who get migraines. Many people with migraines have their first episode when they are late adolescents or early teens.

Boys and girls experience migraine at similar rates prior to going through puberty. Though many boys outgrow their migraines, young girls are three times more likely to continue having migraines after puberty. Plus, the menstrual cycle continues to be a major trigger for young women with migraines.

How Migraine Pain May Improve with Age

Many adults with migraine find that their episodes become less frequent and severe as early as their fifties and sixties. As they age, they may also find new triggers or lose old triggers.

However, “silent migraines” become more common as people age. This refers to having aura without a headache. Aura is a temporary attack on visual, sensory, balance, and/or speech. Usually, an aura is an early sign of a migraine headache, but in a silent migraine, the head pain never comes. Aura generally lasts between 5 minutes to an hour, and might include nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

The quality of migraine can also change over time, whether it continues to throb, remain on one side, or cause other side effects. For many women, migraines become less frequent after menopause. That’s because the rampant hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle are a major trigger.

However, this is not true for all women. In fact, migraine symptoms can increase during the perimenopause stage. Perimenopause is the transition to menopause when many women experience hot flashes, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, and more.

Preventing Migraines at Any Age

Regardless of your age or sex, exploring certain treatments and maintaining healthy habits can make migraines more manageable. This includes:

  1. Recognizing and avoiding triggers
  2. Creating sleep routines for optimal rest
  3. Eating regular, nutritious meals
  4. Staying well hydrated
  5. Reducing stress through:
    a. mindfulness
    b. meditation
    c. stretching
    d. acupuncture and/or
    e. yoga

There are a variety of medical treatments for migraines if lifestyle changes aren’t enough. Talk to your doctor to learn about the options that are right for you—and keep them in the loop if your symptoms change drastically.