Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Many adults know what it’s like to have headaches, but children also get them. In fact, by the age of 5, 25 percent of children have had at least one headache and by the age of 15, 75 percent have experienced a headache.
Even though a headache may feel like the pain is coming from the brain, what usually causes the pain comes from outside of the skull in the nerves, blood vessels and muscles that cover the head and neck or from pressure increases in the blood vessels inside of the skull. The muscles and blood vessels can swell or tighten and put pressure on surrounding nerves.
Children can develop headaches for a variety of reasons, including dental cavities, ear infections, and sinusitis. They can also come about due to lack of sleep, stress, bumps on the head or they can be triggered by certain foods and drinks. Children can also suffer from migraines and tension headaches.
Headaches are classified in two different categories, primary and secondary. Primary headaches include tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches result from specific causes that include infection, meningitis, tumors, or head injury.
Most headaches will go away on their own with little or no medical intervention, but you should take your child to a doctor to talk about their headaches if the headaches:
Are very painful
Wake the child from sleep
Will not go away easily
Develop after a head injury
Affect your child’s vision
Are accompanied by a tingling sensation
Cause your to act differently
Occur more than once a month
Keep your child from going to school
Are accompanied by fever or a stiff neck
Occur early in the morning without nausea
Having your child lie down in a cool, dark room or giving him or her acetaminophen may help. You should not give your child pain medication every day because it can make your child’s headaches worse over time.
Making sure that your child drinks enough fluid. Children need about 4-8 glasses of fluid a day
Not giving your child caffeine
Keeping your child on a regular sleep schedule with at least 8-10 hours of sleep per night
Not letting your child skip meals
Avoiding foods that seem to trigger headaches
Avoiding overly-busy schedules or stressful situations
If you decide that your child should see a doctor because he or she is experiencing headaches frequently, your doctor will examine your child’s medical history and may ask you to keep a record of your child’s headaches by writing down how severe they are, what seems to help or make them worse, and what seems to trigger them. Your doctor may also suggest a change in diet, a change in sleeping habits, relaxation exercises, or, if necessary, may prescribe medication to control the headaches. If your child is given a prescription, you will need to inform his or her school nurse, so that your child can receive treatment as school if he or she gets a headache there.