HeadWise HeadWise: Volume 4, Issue 4 - Page 25

What to Do When Your Child with Headache Is Leaving for College Sarah Rahal, MD Mount Sinai Medical Center New York, NY T he college environment is fraught with novelty for incoming freshman. For most students, the challenge lies in adapting to new academic and social pressures. However, for those with migraine, the task lies beyond this: navigating a host of new lifestyle factors that may trigger migraines. As any migraineur knows, change is often a stimulus for headache, and for those new to campus the changes in food, mood, sleep, and stress all play a role. Migraine is thought of as a genetic tendency toward headache. Thus, it is likely many parents reading this article for their teenager had once themselves faced the challenge of leaving for college as a migraine sufferer. Knowing what to expect and having a plan in place can alleviate concerns and make for an easier transition. Migraines occur above a certain threshold of triggers, at the interplay of genes and environment. At the cornerstone of migraine management is knowing one’s triggers. If your teenager does not yet possess a good handle on this, now is a good time to start a headache diary – tracking the circumstances around each migraine episode and looking for patterns. An identifiable trigger may not always be present, but common trends may emerge, and behaviors can be modified to address this. Environment