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Meet Dr. Lauren Strauss, headache expert and operations leader at CHoR
June 04, 2024
School age boy with hands on face, mother next to him

    June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

    CHoR's Dr. Lauren Strauss headshotKids and teens can be hit with headaches just like adults. When headaches start to become troublesome, the care of an expert may help. We welcomed pediatric neurologist and headache specialist Dr. Lauren Strauss in the fall, and recently asked her about her care for kids in recognition of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.

    How Dr. Strauss helps kids overcome headaches and more at CHoR

    How did you come to specialize in headache care for kids?

    My journey and training background started with a child neurology residency that combined pediatrics, child neurology and adult neurology, which gave me a great perspective in how the brain works and how its dysfunction can impact the patient and their family. Patients and families seeking care for headaches are often at a crisis point where they are in the process of losing hope. 

    The amazing opportunity to help a family in need in this moment is what made me choose headache medicine as a specialty. I like to be a light of hope and help families see where we are going and navigate together solutions available to manage and prevent pain. It’s an incredibly rewarding gift to help others in this way.

    Are there different types of headaches? How common are they? 

    There are a lot of different types of headaches and there is now an International Classification of Headache Disorders that defines the differences and what goes into each diagnosis. Migraine is very common and affects 1 billion people worldwide, including 1 in 11 children. Headaches and migraine can start at any age. Children may present with episodes of irritability and vomiting before pain is recognized as part of the reason for the irritability. 

    What are the most common causes of headaches in kids?  

    This is challenging and an important part of our assessment in the headache clinic, trying to make sure we don’t miss a cause or contributor. The answer usually is multifactorial – a combination between genetic predisposition and environmental exposure. There are several health conditions and exposures that likely impact earlier age of presentation or how severe episodes are, like hormones, infection, inflammation, other disease influence, head trauma, medications and health habits.  

    When should parents seek medical care for their child’s headaches? 

    Headaches and migraine often are inherited, and it’s common that parents are worried their child may go on to have severe migraines like their family members. If headaches are affecting a child’s ability to live their life, play in sports or attend class at school, it’s time to ask for an evaluation with the primary care provider. The primary care provider can assess for dental and vision concerns, screen with lab work and review healthy habits that can influence headaches. When headaches do not respond to treatment and lifestyle adjustments, or there are unusual symptoms, the primary care provider may ask for additional consultation with neurology.

    What is your approach to care when a child comes to you for headaches?

    The first steps in managing symptoms are to focus on healthy habits and lifestyle factors. This includes maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake up time, keeping a varied and nutritious diet, not skipping meals, promoting regular activity and exercise, ensuring regular hydration throughout the day, and avoiding or limiting caffeine use. Promoting regular activity and exercise along with a healthy diet is important because we do understand that weight gain can be a risk factor for disease progression.

    In addition to seeing patients, you have an important leadership role at CHoR. Can you explain your role and goals for ensuring the best care for children and families? 

    I have absolutely loved joining the CHoR community and as vice chair of clinical operations, I focus on ways to improve our clinical efficiency and optimize our systems. 

    Why did you choose to bring your skills and expertise to CHoR?

    CHoR has entered an exciting phase of growth and innovation that is inspiring to see. The new Children’s Tower just celebrated its first birthday and we have more plans for growth. I wanted to be part of the excitement and find ways to optimize our care delivery for our Richmond community and the state of Virginia.

    What types of hats do you wear outside of work?

    Life is busy as a happy wife and mom to three kids and a goldendoodle. I’m a beginner gardener and I love planting new things, visiting local nurseries or plant swapping with friends. It’s a great hobby to share with my kids who all help with picking out plants and watering them.

    Learn more about our nationally ranked neurology care at CHoR.

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