Home > Special Circumstances > Headaches in Children

Headaches in Children

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 25 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Children Kids Headache Blood Sugar

Like adults many children suffer from headaches and in fact, the causes are sometimes the same as those experienced by adults. Other headaches are more specific to children and may also require very different treatment approaches to manage the pain.

Most headaches occurring in children are fortunately benign and do not indicate a serious disease. Many adults begin experiencing headaches during childhood so it is particularly important to address the headaches when they first begin. Headaches such as migraines are genetically linked and so may occur in more than one family member.

Types of Headaches in Children

It can be quite difficult for children to describe headaches in detail and this can make diagnosis and treatment challenging for doctors and parents. In general, there are primary headaches, which develop by themselves and where the causes are not typically known and secondary headaches, which develop from an underlying illness or injury. Primary headaches include migraines, tension headaches and cluster headaches.

Migraine

Children who experience migraines often do so based on genetics. During a migraine, blood vessels constrict or dilate. Migraine symptoms resulting from these vascular changes include problems with vision and balance as well as nausea, vomiting, dizziness and pain.

Tension Headache

Most children's headaches are tension ones, and are due to issues such as stress, poor sleep patterns, food and food additives or environmental triggers. A small percentage of children suffering from tension headaches will develop chronic headaches, which occur on a daily or near daily basis.

Cluster Headache

These are uncommon in children but are often extremely painful. They involve pain on one side of the head. Because they are quite sharp and cause a great deal of discomfort, they can be disabling and disruptive to the child's functioning in school if occurring on a regular basis.

Secondary Headaches, Prompted by an Underlying Injury Include:

  • Head injury
  • Concussion
  • Viral infection such as meningitis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Medication side effects
  • Sinus disease
  • Tumours

Treating Headaches in Children

Treating a child's headaches involves both prevention strategies and treatment for theheadache itself. It is important to ensure the child receives enough sleep each night and that water intake is adequate.

Obtaining enough fluids from foods and beverages will help to prevent dehydration, which can lead to headaches. A headache diary might be useful to determine when headaches are occurring; this can aid in narrowing down a trigger such as a particular food or an environmental factor.

Also be sure that your child eats healthy meals regularly as low blood sugar can prompt a headache. Providing additional nutritious snacks throughout the day can help to maintain a more consistent blood sugar.

Try to help your child avoid stressors whenever possible. Some are inevitable, such as exams, but working with your child to develop ways to cope can help to prevent headaches.

Counselling may be helpful if your child's headaches are triggered by emotional reactions to stress. For relief of immediate headache symptoms, over-the-counter medications such as acetominophen and ibuprofen are often effective. They also lower fevers and are therefore particularly helpful if your child's headache is fever related. Prescription medications are more likely to be prescribed for a child who experiences migraines. These may include ergotamine, triptan medications, antidepressants and calcium channel blockers. Any treatment of a secondary headache will involve treatment of the underlying illness or disorder.

It can be difficult for children to articulate their discomfort when headache pain strikes, particularly toddlers, but with careful attention and preventative measures in conjunction with any advice from a physician, your kids can handle headaches better. For a kid, fewer headaches means more time doing what kids do best: playing.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why does my 6 year old boy keep complaining of his head hurting,he doesn't feel sick or dizzy with it,he complains everyday and its always the back of the head,he had his eyes tested and he wears glasses and has done for a year,i have taken him to the GP but couldn't suspect nothing wrong,its concerning me now. A worried mum
lindsaylou - 25-Aug-15 @ 9:54 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • OllO
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Kk - I would. Obviously, it's going to be an impact, but if it doesn't subside it's always good to get stuff checked out…
    19 July 2018
  • Mr.brown
    Re: Headaches Caused By Infection
    Question I recently had taken sti antibiotics for one week after that's about a week from the last day I took the pills I start…
    11 July 2018
  • Hil
    Re: Migraines and Menopause
    @CarryWarry - Oh wow - thanks for this. I have had a continual headache since menopause, having never suffered previously in my life.
    2 July 2018
  • MiM
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Queen - go back. If you have taken the time out to ask for help, then you need to see someone as obviously your neck is not right.
    2 July 2018
  • CarryWarry
    Re: Migraines and Menopause
    I am hoping to be at the end of a horrific 2.5 year period of hell with headaches which came out of the blue. My story started with me…
    2 July 2018
  • Queen
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I hit my head about 3 months ago. It hurt but I'm someone who has a high pain threshold and tend to "walk things off". However,…
    2 July 2018
  • Shazza
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I fell few weeks backs banging my head slightly. But last few days my head as been a bit fuzzy with headaches any need for…
    19 June 2018
  • Migraines/tension/pr
    Re: Numbness in Head With Pain and Dizziness: What Can it Be?
    I feel numbness on both sides and top of my head feels like my brain is swallon like a lot…
    18 June 2018
  • Lou
    Re: Headaches Caused By Infection
    I'm having lightheaded and can't stand up been in hospital they done all the test MRI ct scan all clear had a really bad attract…
    11 June 2018
  • N0NE
    Re: Headache With Pins and Needles: Is This Serious?
    Started feeling nausea yesterday,just now I felt sick,stood up and felt dizzy felt like I was going pass…
    5 June 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the HeadacheExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.