A headache is not a disease. Headaches are common among children and generally are not serious. One to two headaches per month are common in children. The most common headaches in children are tension headaches and migraines.
Headaches occurring more frequently than once a week, may be associated with health concerns that require further evaluation.
What Causes Headaches?
Headaches are most commonly caused by one of the following:
Types Of Headaches
Tension headaches: May feel like a tight band is around your child’s head. The pain is dull and aching and usually will be felt on both sides of your child’s head, but may be in front and back as well.
Pressure at school or at home, arguments with parents or friends, having too much to do, and feeling anxious or depressed can all cause a headache.
Migraines: Described as throbbing and usually are felt on only one side of your child’s head, but may be felt on both. A migraine may make your child feel light-headed or dizzy, and / or make your child’s stomach upset. Your child may see spots or be sensitive to light, sounds, and smells. If your child gets migraines, chances are someone in the family also has had this problem.
Psychogenic: Similar to tension headaches, but the cause is an emotional problem such as depression. Signs of depression include: loss of energy, poor appetite or overeating, loss of interest in usual activities, change in sleeping patterns (trouble falling asleep, waking in the middle of the night or too early in the morning), and difficulty thinking or concentrating.
When Should Your Child See A Pediatrician?
If you are worried about your child’s headaches - or if this problem begins to disrupt school, home, or your child’s social life - call our office. Other signs that may mean you should visit your pediatrician include:
Treatment Of Headaches
If your child gets tension headaches or mild migraines, treat the headaches as follows:
(Tylenol and Ibuprofen dose charts available in our office and on our Web page)
If the headaches are causing your child more discomfort or you suspect a migraine headache, prescription medicine may be required. Please call the office if your child’s headaches do not improve with the above suggestions.
A headache diary is helpful in pinpointing a cause for your child’s headaches and helping decide on whether treatment is necessary. A headache diary will help you keep track of the following important information related to your child’s headaches: The diary will be helpful in identifying the frequency and severity of your child’s headaches and allow us to recommend a specific treatment plan.
Headaches that are caused by an emotional or psychological problem may require additional visits to your pediatrician or to other health care professionals to get to the cause of the problem. Sometimes entire families need counseling to eliminate the stress that is causing headaches.
Remember, feeling stress in children is normal. Stress can be the result of normal experiences that all children must learn to cope with. Common examples include: worrying about exams, having a fight with a close friend, worrying about one’s performance in a sporting event, or concern over being accepted by one’s friends.
Learning to cope with a specific stress factor may relieve your child’s headaches. It's important to know that, whatever the cause, your child’s headache pain is real.
If a specific food seems to trigger your child’s headaches, try eliminating that food from the diet.
The following foods may be triggers for your child’s headaches. Try eliminating one at a time to see if there is any improvement in the headaches.
Cheeses Permissible: American, cottage, cream and Velveeta