Migraines 101 for Teens

You’re a teenager. And that means you’ve got a lot going on. With school. With friends. With family. With all of the things you like to do (AND the things you don’t like to do). So, the last thing you want to deal with are migraines. Migraines hurt. And, no matter what your parents or your doctor or other adults might say, they just don’t get what it means to be a teenager who has migraines. The help and support you need are different. You have different questions. So, let’s take a look at some of those.

1. What are migraines?

A migraine is a headache that can be intense! It usually causes pain on one side of your head instead of all over. Migraines can also make you nauseous, or even make you vomit. And you might be more sensitive to light and sound.

2. How long does a migraine last? And will they come back?

A migraine can last anywhere from hours to a few days. And, yes, migraines can come back again over time. But they might not always feel the same.

3. Sometimes I see things like flashing lights or wavy lines before my migraine starts. Is there something wrong with me?

It’s not unusual for some people to see things like this before a migraine headache starts. They’re warning signs called “auras”.

4. I don’t know anyone else my age that gets migraines. Is it weird that I do?

No. Absolutely not. Approximately 4% of boys ages 12-17, and 6% of girls ages 12-17, get migraines.

5. When I get a migraine at school or when I’m with my friends, it embarrasses me. What can I do?

One of the most important things you can do, so that you don’t feel embarrassed or alone because of your migraines, is to talk with people you trust. You might want to tell your close friends about them so that they can help you if you start feeling bad. You also might want to talk with your teachers about them. Sometimes you might get migraines when you are at school, so having the support and understanding of teachers is really important. But, more than anything, you need to know that migraines are nothing to be embarrassed about. You haven’t done anything to cause them.

6. Can I avoid getting migraines?

There’s really no surefire way to avoid getting migraines. But, you might be able to avoid getting as many of them if you figure out what might get them started. These are called “triggers.” Triggers can include things like:

  • Certain foods or drinks, such as cheese, chocolate, citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, and others), and caffeine
  • Stress
  • Changes in your routine, such as getting too much or too little sleep, missing a meal, or eating something different
  • Hormonal changes in females, such as during monthly menstrual cycles

One way to help determine what your triggers might be is to keep a headache diary. When you have a migraine, write down what you were doing, what you ate, etc. right before your migraine began. Then, share it with your parents and your doctor so that they can help you figure out ways to avoid these triggers.

7. How do I know for sure that I’m having migraines?

The only way to know for sure that the headaches you’re having are migraines is to visit your doctor so that they can talk to you about your symptoms and make a diagnosis. So be sure to let your parents know if you’re having headaches so that they can make an appointment for you.

8. Is there anything that can make a migraine not hurt so badly?

There are different treatments for migraines. So, talk with your parents and your doctor about the one that will be the best choice for you.
Having migraines is no fun. That’s for sure. But, you’re not alone. And there is help. All you have to do is ask. So, talk to someone you trust today and take the first step to feeling better.


*AXERT® tablets are indicated for the acute treatment of migraine with or without aura in adults. AXERT® tablets are indicated for the acute treatment of migraine headache pain in adolescents age 12 to 17 years with a history of migraine attacks with or without aura usually lasting 4 hours or more (when untreated). In adolescents age 12-17 years, efficacy of AXERT® on migraine associated symptoms (nausea, photophobia and phonophobia) was not established.

Important Limitations

AXERT® should only be used where a clear diagnosis of migraine has been established. If a patient has no response for the first migraine attack treated with AXERT®, the diagnosis of migraine should be reconsidered before AXERT® is administered to treat any subsequent attacks. In adolescents age 12 to 17 years, efficacy of AXERT® on migraine-associated symptoms (nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia) was not established. AXERT® is not intended for the prophylactic therapy of migraine or for use in the management of hemiplegic or basilar migraine. Safety and effectiveness of AXERT® have not been established for cluster headache which is present in an older, predominantly male population.

Important Safety Information

AXERT® is a prescription medication for the acute treatment of migraine with or without aura in adults, and for the acute treatment of migraine headache pain in adolescents age 12 to 17 years with a history of migraine attacks with or without aura usually lasting 4 hours or more (when untreated). If you have no response for the first migraine attack treated with AXERT®, then your doctor will need to see if you really have migraine before you take AXERT® to treat any future attacks. You should not take AXERT® if you have heart disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure or have ever had heart disease. If you have risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, family history of heart attack, menopause, or are a male over 40 years of age), or if you are pregnant, nursing, or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk with your doctor before taking AXERT®. You should also tell your doctor if you have had a stroke of any type or any transient ischemic attacks, or if you have circulation (blood flow) problems, as you should not use AXERT®. Contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing symptoms of pain, tightness, pressure, or heaviness in your chest, throat, neck, or jaw, shortness of breath, weakness, or slurring of speech, if you experience abdominal pain or bloody diarrhea, or if your fingers or toes become cold or discolored. In very rare cases, serious heart problems have occurred in patients without known heart disease.

AXERT®, like other triptans, may be associated with a potentially life-threatening condition mainly when taken together with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), two classes of drugs for depression or other disorders. Common SSRIs are Celexa® (citalopram HBr), Lexapro® (escitalopram oxalate), Paxil® (paroxetine), Prozac®/Sarafem® (fluoxetine), Symbyax® (olanzapine/fluoxetine), Zoloft® (sertraline), and Luvox® (fluvoxamine). Common SNRIs are Cymbalta® (duloxetine) and Effexor® (venlafaxine). If you experience symptoms such as confusion, sweating, flushing, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, muscle weakness, poor balance, or worsening headache, contact your doctor immediately.

Some people who take migraine medicines, like AXERT®, for 10 or more days every month may have worse headaches (medication overuse headache). If your headaches get worse, your healthcare professional may decide to stop your treatment with AXERT®.

Tell your doctor about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking. Do not take AXERT® if you have taken an ergotamine-containing or ergot-type medication or another triptan in the last 24 hours. Do not take if you have had an allergic reaction to AXERT® or any of its ingredients. Tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to a sulfonamide drug or if you are taking ketoconazole.

The most common AXERT® side effects in adults are nausea, sleepiness, tingling sensation, headache, and dry mouth.
The most common AXERT® side effects in adolescents are dizziness, sleepiness, headache, tingling sensation, nausea and vomiting.

Ask your doctor about side effects, possible drug interactions, and any other important questions you may have before taking AXERT®.

Celexa and Lexapro are registered trademarks of Forest Laboratories. Paxil is a registered trademark of GlaxoSmithKline. Symbyax, Prozac/Sarafem and Cymbalta are registered trademarks of Eli Lilly. Zoloft is a registered trademark of Pfizer. Luvox is a registered trademark of Solvay. Effexor is a registered trademark of Wyeth.

You are encouraged to report side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For full U.S. Prescribing Information, click here.


©Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 2015. All rights reserved. Licensed from Almirall, S.A. Your use of the information on this site is subject to the terms of our Legal Notice. Please see our Privacy Policy.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. publishes this site and is solely responsible for its contents.

Capitalized product names are trademarks of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

This site is intended for the use of our customers, patients, healthcare professionals, and residents in the United States and Puerto Rico. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recognizes that the Internet is a global communications medium; however, laws, regulatory requirements and medical practices for pharmaceutical products vary from country to country. The prescribing information included here may not be appropriate for use outside the United States and Puerto Rico.

This page was last modified on October 28 2015 at 09:20:50 EST.