Pediatric: Kids get headaches too
Kids, not just adults, get headaches, too. Luckily, very few headaches are caused by serious conditions, such as a tumors, infections, or a head injury. Regardless, common headaches can be very painful and distracting for children.
Pay Attention to a Headache
Although some kids will feign headaches or tummy aches to avoid things they don’t want to do (like go to school), most childhood headaches are real. Some children have migraines and others have tension-type headaches. Migraines can be triggered by stress, food, or environmental factors, such as noise or bright lights. Tension-type headaches can be a response to stress or challenges at school, home, work, or among friends.
Find Headache Relief
Take your child to the doctor for help with headaches. Your child may need medication or changes in his daily routine, such as diet, exercise, and rest. If over time, your doctor is not able to treat or manage the headaches, ask for a referral to a pediatric neurologist or headache specialist.
Your child may also be referred to a therapist. Therapy may reduce the length and frequency of migraine headaches. It may be used with or without medication and may include cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, or relaxation methods.
Gum chewing has also been shown to cause headaches in children. If your child chews gum excessively, you may want to encourage ending the habit.
Take It Easy
Kids who get headaches can participate in most activities, but sometimes it will be best to just take it easy. If your child has headaches, try not to overcommit him to too many activities. Leave some time for rest and relaxation. Overall, kids who get headaches will benefit from balanced, nutritious meals (especially breakfast), regular sleep patterns (including a full night’s sleep), and exercise. Although exercise may help relieve tension, it may not be a good idea for your child to exert himself during a headache.
Tell Teachers and School Staff
Your child spends most of the day at school, so you need to make teachers and school staff aware of your child’s headaches. Have your doctor write a note explaining any medications and special instructions, such as rest or recovery periods. Make sure that your child is allowed to take his medication when needed. Migraines, for example, should be treated as soon as your child senses one coming on. Waiting until class ends is likely to lead to a much more severe migraine and a longer recovery period. Children with headaches may need to miss school, but if your child missing school often, you should seek further medical attention.
Last reviewedJune 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.