Variant migraines are not necessarily headaches - although they can be - but they are related, physiologically, to more typical migraines and are set off by the same triggers. Some affect the stomach causing nausea and vomiting; others produce dizziness and vertigo, and some cause confusion, all with or without headache. These migraine variants tend to be brief and are made worse by movement. They're most likely to develop in children with a family history of migraine and may suggest that affected youngsters eventually will develop more typical migraines.
Fortunately, these episodes can be relieved by deep sleep or by medications, but it is important to try to determine what sets off the symptoms so that kids can avoid the triggers. I urge you to track the foods associated with your child's variant migraines. Typically, triggers include aged cheeses and processed meats (including pizza and hot dogs); peanuts; bread and crackers containing cheese; broad beans, peas, and lentils; and beverages containing caffeine and chocolate. Other foods that have been linked to migraines include avocados, bananas, citrus fruits, figs, raisins, red plums, and raspberries. Food additives that may play a role include nitrates and nitrites (in processed meats), yellow food coloring, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) used in some canned or processed foods as well as in Chinese foods and in soy sauce. In addition, watch out for non-food triggers such as stress, fatigue, lack of sleep (or sleeping too much), missing meals, weather-related changes in barometric pressure, and changes in altitude. Strong smells, such as paint, gasoline or heavy perfumes, and bright flashing lights can also trigger migraine symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are very useful in relieving migraines in children, and I definitely would recommend an anti-inflammatory diet. I suggest trying the diet first and then adding Zyflamend. The proper amount for an eight-year-old child is half the adult dose. You may also introduce your child to mind-body interventions like hypnosis or biofeedback which can be quite beneficial for relief of migraine symptoms.
Andrew Weil, M.D.