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Finding relief from Excruciating Headaches a challenge

r, her friends didn't really understand.

"There was confusion about why I was gone so much; they thought I'd gotten in with a bad crowd," says Gohmann, an honors student who wants to be a psychologist. "They thought I was making it up."

Abigail Rey experienced much the same response from her doctor in Virginia when she first got bad headaches five years ago.

"My doctor said to just deal with it," says the 16-year-old, who now lives in Shoreline, Washington, and has since found a physician to treat her chronic migraines. She says even some parents don't believe their children's headaches are so bad.

"They just think they're complaining -- that it's not a real disorder, things like that," Aurora says. "But if it's interfering with the quality of life -- keeping them from everyday activities -- then it's probably time to seek help."

Still, even the most experienced of headache specialists say that finding relief for chronic daily headaches isn't always easy.

The director of the pediatric headache clinic at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children in Baltimore says that at least half the young patients who come to see him suffer from chronic daily headaches.

Often, it is a matter of trying various migraine medications. Among the most common are prescription drugs called "triptans," which are marketed under such names as Maxalt, Amerge, Imitrex and Zomig. They're taken at the onset of a headache.

Because chronic headaches often run in families, some doctors give their young patients drugs that have worked on relatives. Others also have found that antidepressants sometimes help, since depression can be an underlying factor. And some accompany the use of prescription drugs with acupuncture or botox injections to relax stiffened head and neck muscles.

Doctors say it's also important that their young patients stay on a regular sleep schedule and avoid stress and s
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