Headaches and Kids

Jan 11, 2023 | Children's Health

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No one likes a headache, but even kids can have them from time to time. When does a child’s headache require medical attention?

Yash D. Shah, MD, a pediatric neurologist with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health, offers some ParentingU Extra Credit, sharing some tips about headaches in kids.

Types of Headaches

Most headaches in kids are benign and will go away. Headaches don’t damage your child’s brain. They may be related to infections such as flu or cold. Tension headaches can be stress-related, and children may also have migraines that could require more treatment. 

Interestingly in kids, migraine does not present the same way as in adults. Children with migraines can sometimes have abdominal pain or cyclical vomiting, neck flexion (torticollis), or intermittent instability or wobbly gait. Even babies can have migraines. They can express it by excessive crying or rocking back and forth.

With the help of one of our exceptional healthcare providers, your child can get the best treatment to stop or prevent headache pain and any accompanying symptoms such as vomiting and nausea.

Cause for More Concern?

Headache that includes neck stiffness or pain and fever should be checked out right away. 

Sensitivity to light, loud sounds and nausea, vomiting or dizziness can be associated with migraines. Any vision changes associated with headache are also cause to contact your pediatric provider. 

Contact your doctor if their headache worsens or happens frequently. 

Pain from head injuries, such as those that may happen while playing sports, may require more care and attention. 

Treating Headaches in Kids

Healthy habits, like a regular sleep schedule, nutritious meals and proper hydration, can help prevent headaches and help with a quicker recovery. Resting in a quiet, dark room can help, too.

Kids’ headaches can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain medications. Download our ibuprofen and acetaminophen dosing guide. An important thing to remember is that overuse of these medications (more than three times per week) can cause a child to have rebound medication-induced headaches.

It can be hard to know the difference between what can wait and what may need emergency care. Our chart can help you determine what type of care would be most appropriate: pediatrician, walk-in clinic or emergency room.

If you are unsure if your child’s headache needs emergency evaluation, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician. 

Our pediatricians and providers are committed to your child’s health 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We provide exceptional care around the clock. It’s that simple. 

Talk to your child’s doctor if you have questions about your child’s headaches.

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