Headaches in children are common and usually aren’t serious. Like adults, children can develop different types of headaches, including migraine or stress-related (tension) headaches. Children can also have chronic daily headaches.
In some cases, headaches in children are caused by an infection, high levels of stress or anxiety, or minor head trauma. It’s important to pay attention to your child’s headache symptoms and consult a doctor if the headache worsens or occurs frequently.
Headaches in children usually can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications and other lifestyle measures.
Children get the same types of headaches adults do, but their symptoms may differ. For example, migraine pain in children may last less than four hours, whereas in adults, migraines last at least four hours.
Differences in symptoms may make it difficult to pinpoint headache type in a child, especially in a younger child who can’t describe symptoms. In general, though, certain symptoms tend to fall more frequently under certain categories.
Migraines can cause:
- Pulsating, throbbing or pounding head pain
- Pain that worsens with exertion
- Abdominal pain
- Extreme sensitivity to light and sound
Even infants can have migraines. A child who’s too young to tell you what’s wrong may cry and hold his or her head to indicate severe pain.
Tension-type headaches can cause:
- A pressing tightness in the muscles of the head or neck
- Mild to moderate, nonpulsating pain on both sides of the head
- Pain that’s not worsened by physical activity
- Headache that’s not accompanied by nausea or vomiting, as is often the case with migraine
Younger children may withdraw from regular play and want to sleep more. Tension-type headaches can last from 30 minutes to several days.
Cluster headaches are uncommon in children under 10 years of age. They usually:
- Occur in groups of five or more episodes, ranging from one headache every other day to eight a day
- Involve sharp, stabbing pain on one side of the head that lasts less than three hours
- Are accompanied by teariness, congestion, runny nose, or restlessness or agitation
Chronic daily headache
Doctors use the phrase “chronic daily headache” (CDH) for migraine headaches and tension-type headaches that occur more than 15 days a month. CDH may be caused by an infection, minor head injury or taking pain medications — even nonprescription pain medications — too often.
When to see a doctor
Most headaches aren’t serious, but seek prompt medical care if your child’s headaches:
- Wake your child from sleep
- Worsen or become more frequent
- Change your child’s personality
- Follow an injury, such as a blow to the head
- Feature persistent vomiting or visual changes
- Are accompanied by fever and neck pain or stiffness
A number of factors can cause your child to develop headaches. Factors include:
- Illness and infection. Common illnesses such as colds, flu, and ear and sinus infections are some of the most frequent causes of headaches in children. More-serious infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis, also can cause headaches, but are usually accompanied by other signs and symptoms, such as fever and neck stiffness.
- Head trauma. Bumps and bruises can cause headaches. Although most head injuries are minor, seek prompt medical attention if your child falls hard on his or her head or gets hit hard in the head. Also, contact a doctor if your child’s head pain steadily worsens after a head injury.
- Emotional factors. Stress and anxiety — perhaps triggered by problems with peers, teachers or parents — can play a role in children’s headaches. Children with depression may complain of headaches, particularly if they have trouble recognizing feelings of sadness and loneliness.
- Genetic predisposition. Headaches, particularly migraines, tend to run in families.
- Certain foods and beverages. Nitrates — a food preservative found in cured meats, such as bacon, bologna and hot dogs — can trigger headaches, as can the food additive MSG. Also, too much caffeine — contained in soda, chocolates, coffees and teas — can cause headaches.
- Problems in the brain. Rarely, a brain tumor or abscess or bleeding in the brain can press on areas of the brain, causing a chronic, worsening headache. Typically in these cases, however, there are other symptoms, such as visual problems, dizziness and lack of coordination.
Any child can develop headaches, but they’re more common in:
- Girls after they reach puberty
- Children who have a family history of headaches or migraines
- Older teens
The following may help you prevent headaches or reduce the severity of headaches in children:
- Practice healthy behaviors. Behaviors that promote general good health also may help prevent headaches for your child. These lifestyle measures include getting plenty of sleep, staying physically active, eating healthy meals and snacks, drinking four to eight glasses of water daily, and avoiding caffeine.
- Reduce stress. Stress and busy schedules may increase the frequency of headaches. Be alert for things that may cause stress in your child’s life, such as difficulty doing schoolwork or strained relationships with peers. If your child’s headaches are linked to anxiety or depression, consider talking to a counselor.
- Keep a headache diary. A diary can help you determine what causes your child’s headaches. Note when the headaches start, how long they last and what, if anything, provides relief.
Record your child’s response to taking any headache medication. Over time, the items you note in the headache diary should help you understand your child’s symptoms so that you can take specific preventive measures.
- Avoid headache triggers. Avoid any food or drinks, such as those containing caffeine, that seem to trigger headaches. Your headache diary can help you determine what prompts your child’s headaches, so you know what to avoid.
- Follow your doctor’s plan. Your doctor may recommend preventive medication if the headaches are severe, occur daily and interfere with your child’s normal lifestyle. Certain medications taken at regular intervals — such as certain antidepressants or anti-seizure medications — may reduce the frequency and severity of headaches
To learn about the nature of your child’s headache, your doctor will likely look to:
- Headache history. Your doctor asks you and your child to describe the headaches in detail, to see if there’s a pattern or a common trigger. Your doctor may also ask you to keep a headache diary for a time, so you can record more details about your child’s headaches, such as frequency, severity of pain and possible triggers.
- Physical exam. The doctor performs a physical exam, including measuring your child’s height, weight, head circumference, blood pressure and pulse, and examining your child’s eyes, neck, head, shoulders and spine.
- Neurological exam. Your doctor checks for any problems with movement, coordination or sensation.
Usually you can treat your child’s headache at home with rest, decreased noise, plenty of fluids, balanced meals and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. If your child is older and has frequent headaches, learning to relax and manage stress through different forms of therapy may help, as well.
While stress doesn’t appear to cause headaches, it can act as a trigger for headaches or make a headache worse. Depression and other mental health disorders also can play a role. For these situations, your doctor may recommend one or more behavior therapies, such as:
- Relaxation training. Relaxation techniques include deep breathing, yoga, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation, which is accomplished by tensing one muscle at a time, and then completely releasing the tension, until every muscle in the body is relaxed. An older child can learn relaxation techniques in classes or at home using books or tapes.Your child then learns how to reduce muscle tension and slow his or her heart rate and breathing. The goal of biofeedback is to help your child enter a relaxed state to better cope with pain.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy can help your child learn to manage stress and reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. During this type of talk therapy, a counselor helps your child learn ways to view and cope with life events more positively.
What Varmasakshi offers for Patients with Headaches in Children?
Ancient Vedic Medical System offers permanent cure for most medical conditions. Though science may challenge the Vedic System, the one common word anyone uses is “God is Great” when the cure happens. God and his miracles cannot be measured or substantiated by Science right?
At Varmasakshi, we follow our ancient Vedic system STRICTLY and all our treatment protocols are customized for each and every patient. When every finger is different, every person is different and every horoscope is different – how can the same treatment work for everyone? Your treatment and therapy is customized and structured based on many aspects and all the treatment protocols and even your diet is planned according to the Vedic System. All treatment aspects include:
Vedic Medical Astrology – In depth analysis of your horoscope from Medical Astrology point of view helps planning, structuring and deciding the treatment protocols. We use both Astrology and Astronomy to arrive at the most suitable time to initiate and continue therapy and we have seen in numerous instances that the cure happens much faster.
Vedic Medical Vaasthu Shastra – Not many people would have even heard about this. Vaasthu Shastra is based on the flow of energy and our experts will suggest the best possible remedies to ensure that your system receives the maximum amount of Positive energies, which are needed to cure you from your ailments. When combined with Medical Astrology, this plays a vital role in your therapy and helps your system cure well.
Varmakalai Therapy – There are 108 important Varma points and 7 Chakras in our human body. These points speak to our Varma Guru. Every point has significance and they breathe life. A complete assessment of these critical points and chakras will reveal the root cause of the issue and the therapy / treatment is planned and structured accordingly.
Vedic Diet – Vedic diet is a highly customized diet plan based on several years of deep research of our ancient Veda Shastras. Based on many aspects including Medical Astrology, planetary positions, planetary impacts, etc. our Guru will advise you on the best Vedic Diet that will help your medical condition vanish. “Food is Medicine” and in most situations, we have seen thousands of people coming out of their complicated medical conditions when they follow all these protocols committedly.
No science can ever explain why we were born or why we were born to specific parents or purpose of our birth or the potential sufferings that everyone goes through… There is a Super Power that is above us, who decides the plan and movement – some call it GOD, some call it FATE. If eclipses, planetary positions, good and bad times, disasters etc. were calculated without technology 50,000 years ago by our Maharishi’s, you can feel the depth of their knowledge and blessings. Our Veda Shastra’s are the oldest and following the Vedic System will help you in every walk of life! Ssree Gurubhyo Namaha!
Lifestyle and home remedies
Before giving your child pain medication, keep these points in mind:
- Read labels carefully and use only the dosages recommended for your child.
- Don’t give doses more frequently than recommended.
- Don’t give your child OTC pain medication more than two or three days a week. Daily use can trigger a rebound headache, a type of headache caused by overuse of pain medications.
- Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
In addition to OTC pain medications, the following can help ease your child’s headache:
- Rest and relaxation. Encourage your child to rest in a dark, quiet room. Sleeping often resolves headaches in children.
- Use a cool, wet compress. While your child rests, place a cool, wet cloth on his or her forehead.
Offer a healthy snack. If your child hasn’t eaten in a while, offer a piece of fruit, whole-wheat crackers or low-fat cheese. Not eating can make headaches worse.