Löningen / Dresden (dpa) – When her daughter Tabea starts blinking or suddenly the noise of siblings becomes too much, Kathrin Schenk knows: A migraine attack is ongoing. "My daughter is then extremely sensitive to light and noise," says the 38-year-old mother.
A 10-year-old girl then often only helps pull herself to bed, preferably with darkened windows. "About every two weeks, Tabea has a migraine attack," the mother says. And the student from Löningen in Lower Saxony is not alone.
The proportion of children with headache has been increasing for years
"More than two-thirds of all schoolchildren regularly have a headache," reports Dresdner neurologist Gudrun Goßrau. The proportion of children and adolescents with headache has been increasing for years. "Today, more children are more likely to reach the headache frequencies that adults usually experience."
In a Dresden Student Survey According to Goßrau, almost 37 percent of the 2,700 girls and boys reported having a headache once a month, and almost 32 percent said it happens more than twice a month. "It was noticeable that almost all children who had a headache only once a month and about 80 percent of those who had a headache more than twice a month did not consult a doctor," Goßrau said.
According to Goßrau, young patients can easily enter a vicious circle: “A miscarriage at school can lead to job loss, school failure and fear at school. Many patients are socially isolated, mental illness can also occur more frequently, ”the doctor warns. "Only very few headache patients seek medical attention," the expert criticized. "Headache is often not perceived as a 'real' disease in our society. Affected children are rarely noticed, not loud and aggressive."
A headache is not the same as a headache
Also a study published in June of the German Center for Childhood Illness at the Vestische Kinder-und Jugendklinik Datteln (North Rhine-Westphalia) have shown that chronic headaches are widespread in school children. More than one in four students (27 percent) reported having a headache at least once a month. Girls are much more frequently affected with 35 percent than boys (18 percent).
Headache is not equal to headache: According to estimates by the German Society for Migraine and Headache (DMKG) ) About every tenth child has a migraine. Hereditary neurological disorder can have many symptoms – in addition to severe headache and blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. But more common among children and adolescents are so-called tension headaches.
The main reason for this is the tight muscles in the shoulder and neck area. But increased media consumption, increasingly compressed knowledge transfer at school, mental stress such as bullying and physical inactivity are considered risk factors. "Anyone who sits a lot at school and in their free time and looks at their cell phones or computers is more likely to respond to a headache than someone who goes out regularly and is physically active," Goßrau explains.
Prevention: Avoid stress and exercise more
According to experts, migraine attacks cannot be completely eliminated. However, patients may be less likely to happen – avoiding stress, moving a lot and following a regular daily schedule. "Regular migraine training also helps with migraines about two to three times a week. It has a certain distraction function and reduces stress," says Goßrau.
Because there are many triggers and causes for headache, Goßrau has partnered with colleagues to develop an interdisciplinary program that addresses the problem in various ways, including physical activation therapies, stress management techniques and relaxation.
Kathrin Schenk tries to offer her daughter a stress-free daily routine. In migraine attacks, Tabea stays at home. «We will work on the school material later. It works so well so far, ”the mother said. Teachers, however, unfortunately have no understanding. "They expect Tabea to go to school despite migraines." However, she also knows from her own experience how the disease affects her and is completely behind her daughter.
Since 2015, the preventive program "Aktion Mütze." It is especially focused on students, teachers and parents – A childhood without a headache. The goal is to inform, feel the risks of drug abuse, prevent headache and get rid of the cause. Because according to the initiators, students often resort to medication too often.
According to co-initiator Karin Frisch, 110,000 students have already participated in the program. The accompanying research shows how much the program delivers: six months after class, complaints would improve in two-thirds of people who suffered from a headache and used the knowledge gained.