Headache in Kids

Understanding headaches in children is essential for parents seeking to alleviate their child’s discomfort. This article discusses various aspects of headaches in kids, including the different types, common causes, symptoms, and treatment options available.

If your child has begun having headaches after sustaining a head injury, SportsSafe can help.  Concussions commonly cause lingering headaches and SportsSafe providers can offer guidance to facilitate improvement.

A young girl holding her head because of a headache.

What is a headache?

A headache is when you feel pain or discomfort in your head or neck. It can happen for many reasons. Sometimes, it’s due to stress, sickness, or not getting enough sleep. Other times, it might be a sign of something more serious, like a head injury or an illness.

Different Types of Headaches

There are 5 different types of headaches that your child may experience. 

The different types of headaches include the following:

  • Migraine Headaches: These are intense headaches that can last for hours or even days and usually occur on one side of the head. Migraine headaches often come with other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound.
  • Tension Headaches: These headaches are often caused by stress or tension in the muscles of the head and neck. They can feel like a tight band around the head.
  • Cluster Headaches: These are rare but very painful headaches that happen in clusters or groups. They often cause intense pain around one eye.
  • Medication Overuse Headaches: Sometimes, using too much headache medicine can actually make headaches worse over time.
  • Chronic Headaches: When headaches happen frequently, they can be considered chronic. This means they occur often, sometimes even daily, and can be tough to manage.

What Are the Common Causes of Headaches in Children?

Headaches are more common in children than you might think. As a parent, seeing your child in pain can be worrying, especially when it comes to headaches. Let’s explore some common reasons why children might experience headaches.

  1. Tension and Stress: Just like adults, kids can feel stressed or tense, which can lead to headaches. Schoolwork, peer pressure, or family issues can all contribute to tension headaches. 
  2. Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can also cause headaches in children. Encouraging your child to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially during physical activity or hot weather, can help prevent dehydration headaches.
  3. Lack of Sleep: Children need plenty of rest to stay healthy, and not getting enough sleep can lead to headache pain. Establishing a bedtime routine and ensuring your child gets enough sleep each night can help prevent sleep-related headaches.
  4. Head Injury: Sometimes, headaches can be a sign of a head injury. If your child has recently had a bump or blow to the head, especially if they’re experiencing other symptoms like dizziness or nausea, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
  5. Trigger Factors: Certain things in the environment can trigger headaches in children, such as bright lights, strong smells, or certain foods. Paying attention to your child’s triggers and avoiding them when possible can help reduce the frequency of headaches.
  6. Changes in Blood Vessels: Changes in the size of blood vessels in the brain can also cause headaches. This can happen due to various factors, including hormonal changes, illness, or changes in weather.

Symptoms of Headaches in Children

As a parent, it’s essential to recognize the signs that your child may be experiencing a headache. Here are some common headache symptoms and migraine symptoms to watch out for:

  • Your child complaining of throbbing pain or pulsating pain in their head 
  • Your child is avoiding bright lights or noises 
  • Your child is rubbing their temples 
  • Nausea 
  • Loss of appetite 

If your child experiences any of these symptoms or experiences frequent and severe headaches, it’s important to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can help determine the cause of the headaches and recommend appropriate treatment to help your child feel better.

How Are Headaches Treated?

When it comes to helping your child feel better from headaches, there are several treatment options available:

  • Pain Relief Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can often help ease headache pain. Always follow the recommended dosage for your child’s age and weight.
  • Rest and Relaxation: Encourage your child to rest in a quiet, dark room when they have a headache. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or gentle massage can also provide relief.
  • Hydration: Making sure your child stays hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help prevent headaches, especially if dehydration is a trigger.
  • Identifying Triggers: Work with your child to identify any triggers that may be causing their headaches, such as certain foods, stress, or lack of sleep. Avoiding these triggers when possible can help reduce the frequency of headaches.
  • Consulting a Headache Specialist: If your child’s headaches are severe, frequent, or significantly impacting their daily life, consider consulting a headache specialist. They can provide a thorough evaluation and recommend personalized treatment options for your child’s specific needs.

Finding Relief for Your Child's Headaches

Understanding headaches in children is crucial for parents seeking to help their little ones feel better. By recognizing common symptoms and triggers, exploring treatment options like pain relief medications, rest, and hydration, and identifying triggers, parents can effectively manage their child’s headaches. However, if headaches persist, are severe, or significantly impact daily life, consulting a headache specialist is essential.

For specialized assistance in managing concussion-related symptoms, consider contacting SportsSafe: Pediatric Concussion Clinic in Austin, Texas. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing comprehensive care and support for children experiencing head injuries, including headaches.