There are more than 450,000 children and teens in the U.S. living with epilepsy— which is also the most common type of childhood brain disorder in our country. One form of therapy that has proven successful is CBD oil. It is a form of medical cannabidiol that helps control seizures. It can also ease the
A Patient Story: A Five-Year-Old’s Long Journey to Be Seizure-Free
November 12, 2021
In the middle of a belly laugh at just three months old, something strange happened to Arabella, says her mother, Ashley Garcia. Her eyes moved back and forth; she turned purple. When it happened again, she took her daughter to the urgent care center and was sent home as if nothing was unusual. But it
In Community Impact: Compassionate Use Program and CBD for Treating Epilepsy, Autism
Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently signed House Bill 1535 expanding the list of conditions eligible for treatment with medical cannabis in the form of low-THC cannabis (or CBD). The bill falls under the Compassionate Use Program which will now provide access to medical cannabis for patients suffering from seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral
Kids with Epilepsy Get ‘True’ Camp Experience at Camp Brainstorm
The shutdown of camps last summer was disappointing for kids looking forward to the activities that camp brings. For kids enrolled at Camp Brainstorm, a camp designed specifically for kids with epilepsy, the absence of in-person camp was disheartening. It’s the only camp that includes children going through the same things they are because epilepsy is
Dr. Aaron Cardon Interviewed in HealthCentral: Raising a Child with Epilepsy
Raising a child is an amazing and endlessly rewarding experience. But as all parents know, it’s not without challenges. Even more challenging is when you discover that your child may have a neurological or developmental disorder or condition such as epilepsy. Epilepsy affects more than 2 million people nationwide, and many of them are children
Facebook Live Series: COVID-19 and Epilepsy
Join us on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. CT The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented change and stress for families particularly those with children who have neurological issues or autoimmune disorders. To help support our families during this time, we are launching a series of video broadcasts to be streamed live on Facebook
What Else Sets Us Apart? Dedication to Advance Research for Pediatric Epilepsy
November 11, 2019
Research and innovation has significantly changed the quality of life for persons with epilepsy. Today we have an array of options to help children control their seizures from diet changes (ketogenic) to pharmaceutical options (more than a dozen approved by the FDA), a medical device (vagus nerve stimulator or VNS) and, in severe cases, surgery.
Dr. Karen Keough Heads to Disneyland As Featured Speaker for Epilepsy Expo
October 10, 2019
Dr. Karen Keough will soon be packing up her mouse ears and heading off to Disneyland to participate in the annual Epilepsy Awareness & Education Expo /Epilepsy Awareness Day, November 4 – 6, taking place at the Southern California theme park. While there, Dr. Keough will join a panel titled “CBD in Epilepsy”, sharing updates
Dr. Karen Keough on Prescription CBD Oil vs. Over-the-Counter CBD Products
If you’re looking for CBD oil products, there’s a good chance you can find a store selling some version in just about any direction you travel. CBD specialty stores have popped up throughout Austin with at least eight opening in 2018 alone. The popularity of CBD oil is due to the vast number of suggested
CNCA Doctors Discuss Epilepsy, SUDEP After Actor’s Sudden Death
Young kids, teenagers, and adults alike were saddened about the sudden death of popular television and movie star Cameron Boyce earlier this month. At just 20 years old, he left a lasting impression on fans who loved him for his characters on-screen and his heartfelt philanthropic efforts off-screen. His death has been attributed to a
Dr. Lindsay Elton Explains Abdominal Migraines
January 22, 2022
What is an abdominal migraine? Is it a tummy ache in your head, or vice-versa (a migraine in your tummy)? Although rare in adults, an abdominal migraine can be a common condition in young children and teenagers. Board-certified pediatric neurologist and migraine expert, Dr. Lindsay Elton, shared what she knows about this very unique type
Can too much sleep trigger a migraine?
October 28, 2020
We are often reminded that if we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies will suffer. Healthful, restorative sleep is necessary for optimal brain function (especially in children) and boosts immunity–something that is so important right now for all of us as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. But can too much sleep actually be harmful, too?
Facebook Live Series: Managing Kids’ Headaches and Migraines
Join us on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. CT The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented change and stress. To help support our families during this time, we are launching a series of video broadcasts to be streamed live on Facebook about various topics that impact our patient families. The next Facebook Live event
Dr. Elton on Fending Off Migraines
Approximately ten percent of young children suffer from painful and debilitating migraines, and that number gradually increases as the teenage years and adolescence sets in (Migraine Research Foundation). Migraines are serious headaches that can be brought on by stress, heat, exhaustion, or seasonal allergies. Other migraine triggers include: Dehydration Menstruation or hormonal changes Certain food
Spotlight on Dr. Lindsay Elton
True or false: Dr. Lindsay Elton suffered painful migraines as a child, just like so many of her current patients? True. As one of Child Neurology Consultants of Austin’s specialists who treats migraines, Dr. Elton knows firsthand about what a debilitating experience they can be. Her personal knowledge of the condition provides her with a
What Triggers Summer Migraines?
Most kids are eager to enjoy a break from school. Yet, for kids who suffer from migraines, the activities celebrated during the summer can be a trigger for painful episodes. Common causes for migraines and headache include dehydration, too much sun and heat exposure, change in sleep habits (like staying up too late), overstimulation (so
Prevent ‘Testing Season’ Headaches, Migraines with These 7 Tips
In Austin, March is a month full of fun activities from rodeo to SXSW to Spring Break. Then why do we often see a spike of headaches and migraines among kids? Allergies are one of the main causes, which tend to run high in March. The other cause is often associated with a five letter
Stress, Screen Time Likely Causes for Surge in Kids’ Headaches
November 9, 2016
A recent report says that hospital ERs have seen a big increase in the number of kids and teens reporting headaches. What is causing the increase? And is there anything kids (and parents) can do to prevent them? Dr. Lindsay Elton, pediatric neurologist who specializes in headaches/migraines, says she is not surprised by the report.
3 Tips To Prevent Dehydration
Dehydration robs your body of precious fluids. As temperatures rise to triple digits, the risk of becoming dehydrated is even greater. Prevention is simple…drink more fluids. Yet, research says your child likely isn’t drinking enough. In a 2015 study, more than 50% of students examined showed signs of low daily water intake. Who is most
How Migraines Affect Children (Different Than Adults)
While migraines affect millions of adults and children, the symptoms can appear differently for the two populations. Here are 5 examples how migraine affects children differently than adults: The head pain may affect the whole head rather than just one side. Attacks are shorter, sometimes lasting less than an hour. The headache may disappear but
Chronic headaches: Five things families should know
You might think of headaches as an adult problem, but they can affect children and teens, too. In fact, about 20 percent of school-aged kids are prone to headaches, according to the National Headache Foundation. A smaller number of those kids experience chronic headaches, which are defined as headaches that occur 15 or more days a month. Just as chronic headaches can cause disability and sick days in grownups, they can have serious effects on children’s lives, leading them to miss school, extracurricular activities, and social events.
For kids with chronic headaches, well-rounded care is key, says Dr. Alyssa Lebel, director of the Chronic Multidisciplinary Headache Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Kids are resilient and respond well to approaches such as exercise and relaxation techniques,” she explains. “Our goal is to intervene early, so chronic headaches don’t turn into a lifetime of chronic pain.” She recommends that parents consider seeking specialized care if their child experiences chronic headaches that haven’t readily responded to medication and wellness interventions and that interfere with daily activities, especially exercise and school.
Here are five more things that every family should know about chronic headaches in kids.
1. Not all headaches are migraines.
The word “migraine” is often used to describe any bad headache, but that’s not always the case. Indeed, only about 5 percent of kids with chronic headaches are diagnosed with migraines. The rest have recurrent head pain caused by a wide range of factors, ranging from tension to neurosurgical procedures. What’s more, kids with true migraines can have very different symptoms than adults, including dizziness and abdominal discomfort. Bottom line: Only a clinician can determine the type of headache your child has.
2. Kids don’t always outgrow headaches.
Although some research suggests that children with chronic daily headaches may see the condition ebb as they get older, that’s not true for everyone. Headaches can change over time and are influenced by many factors, including hormones. “It’s not unusual for chronic headaches to worsen during puberty,” explains Dr. Lebel. That’s one more reason why kids with chronic headaches can benefit from early and ongoing care — you shouldn’t assume the problem will just go away with time.
3. Adult treatments aren’t always right for kids.
Families tend to get excited about new approaches to chronic headaches, but these treatments may not be appropriate for children, whose brains are still developing. “We have to be careful not to quickly turn to the newest or latest treatment, whether that’s a medication or CBD oil,” says Dr. Lebel. “For most of these therapies, we just don’t have the data on their use in kids yet.”
4. A wellness approach is best.
The clinicians in the Chronic Multidisciplinary Headache Clinic take a wholistic approach to care that takes many different aspects of a child’s and family’s health into account. That includes explaining what chronic headaches are and taking an extremely detailed patient history, gathering information about sleep, diet, and sources of stress.
It also includes a psychological evaluation — especially important because many kids with chronic headaches appear to have anxiety or a lower stress threshold. “We’re not saying that the pain is all in their head,” explains Dr. Lebel. “Chronic headache is a primary disorder of the brain, so we need to use the brain to help fix it.”
That means working with families to make healthy lifestyle changes, including improving sleep and nutrition, getting regular physical activity, and learning relaxation techniques and other coping strategies. Multidisciplinary care for chronic headaches can also involve treating associated disabilities and comorbidities that can occur with chronic pain, such as anxiety and depression. When appropriate, Dr. Lebel and her colleagues offer adjunct therapies like medication, injections, and infusions to help temporarily relieve headache pain.
5. Treatment takes time.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for chronic headaches in kids. A multidisciplinary approach can be extremely beneficial, but it won’t eliminate head pain overnight. Families can expect lot of education, conversations with clinicians, and even homework, such as assignments to safely incorporate exercise and tips for managing stress. Follow-up appointments occur over months and even years.
“Some parents view our clinic as the end of the road, when nothing else has worked,” says Dr. Lebel. But the truth is that treatment occurs on a continuum and can require patience. It helps to look on the bright side. “We try not to focus on the amount of pain a child is feeling, but on what they can do as they start to improve: How many more days could they go to school? Are they able to return to ballet class? Have they been hanging out with their friends more?” explains Dr. Lebel. “Kids get distracted by positive experiences — we want parents to understand that, too.”