It’s hard to know exactly what’s happening in your body (and why) when you’re experiencing migraines as a kid. For many kids and teens, it becomes all too easy for the adults in your life to brush off your symptoms, thinking you’ll grow out of it, or for you to not even realize that what you’re experiencing isn’t normal (no, not every kid needs to hide inside from the sunlight!). It’s often not until you’re an adult, officially diagnosed, when you look back and realize those unusual symptoms you felt as a kid were actually a part of your migraine.
We wanted to shed light on the kinds of symptoms people experience growing up that really indicated they had migraine (whether they knew it at the time or not). So we asked our Mighty community to share a sign they grew up with migraine, which they recognize now. Perhaps you experienced some of these signs, too.
Related: A Day With a Migraine
Here’s what our Mighty migraine community had to say:
- “In high school I had headaches at least three to four times a week. And then three years later was diagnosed with chronic migraines.” — Mackenzie P.
- “I was always the teen with [ibuprofen] in my purse. Not much has changed in the last 30 years either. I have just added other pharmaceuticals to my collection.” — Julee H.
- “As a teen I always suffered awful headaches, sometimes wiping me out for six days at a time, sometimes making me black out. I always knew a headache was coming because I’d suddenly not be able to write properly in class and I’d get a flickering in the corner of my eye. I know now that these are auras and I still get them now. As an adult I’ve been diagnosed with hemiplegic migraines which is migraine with stroke-like symptoms.” — Katherine P.
- “I used to be in the nurse’s office several times a week with pain that [acetaminophen] would not relieve. Teachers accused me of trying to get out of class, but really it was because I had chronic migraines. The pain was really there.” — Jocelyn L.
- “In sixth grade I was sitting in the library. I looked up at the flag hanging on the wall, and I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see directly in front of me for about 30 minutes. It was black, like looking into a tunnel. My first experience with aura.” — Chanda L.
- “I needed eyeglasses at a young age because they thought my vision was the reason I was dizzy, nauseous, squinted indoors and had headaches. They were partially right, but I wish I would have told my pediatrician everything that was going on not just the vision part, who knew that squinting was because my eyes were so sensitive to the light or that the dizziness was part of my prodrome (the precursor to my headaches) and maybe if I’d gotten treatment I wouldn’t have spent two years vomiting for no apparent reason.” — Samantha S.
- “I could never play video games, listen to loud music or be in large crowds for long. It was very isolating missing out on activities friends would be able to do and then missing a lot of school due to the pain.” — Melissa R.
- “At a very young age, maybe 4 years old, I had frequent headaches that didn’t go away until I would throw up. Family members on both sides get migraines, so the doctor decided that I did, too. I’m now 48 years old.” — Britt M.
- “Immense panic if I realized there wasn’t any [ibuprofen] in my backpack.” — Marni A.
- “I used to have screaming dreams, weird vision, hear strange sound patterns and felt my throat close up.” — Adrian I.
- “I have never known what it was like for light to not cause me pain. Light has always caused me pain. That was a telltale sign. Then there was the excruciating head eye and face pain while hugging the porcelain God.” — Gina F.
- “Summers were the worst. I could never be outside for very long before I had to go back into my room, turn off all the lights and go back to bed because of the pounding in my head. I still have it and it’s the worst.” — Damien A.
- “Every time my family went on a lengthy car trip, I would feel sick and sometimes vomit, in addition to becoming lethargic and wanting to sleep… looking back, I realize now that I experienced migraines, brought on by my mother’s expensive perfume, which she only wore to church on Sunday and during those times where we were headed to a special event, which required an extended period of time cooped up in a moving vehicle. I realized that I had bad headaches around age 12 and was officially diagnosed with migraines in my early 20s; however, now I better understand that this illness, with a familial genetic tie-in, unfortunately plagued me during my childhood, too.” — Selma F.
- “As a kid, I’d come in from the pool and hide curled up in a pile of blankets on the floor of a dark room. The pool would always cause them because of the chlorine smell, and bright sunshine. So I’d have to find the darkest, softest spot I could.” — Helen W.
- “Being told to ‘pay attention’ in school although you’re just squinting because the classroom lights are way too bright to tolerate.” — Hollie A.
- “Stomach issues. Constant exhaustion. Always not wanting to go to school because of the pain but not being able to explain it until I was much older. My parents sort of thought I was just a horrible cranky child until I realized that feeling the way my migraines made me feel wasn’t normal and fear that I would start feeling sick or get sick at school was a big anxiety trigger. I didn’t realize until much later that my ‘crankiness’ was actually a huge part of my migraines and still is.” — Lara M.