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Headaches in Children - Home Treatment

Home treatment can help relieve your child's headaches. It also can help reduce how often the headaches occur.

When your child has a headache, be sure to give comfort and support. Headaches can be painful and upsetting. Easing stress or anxiety about the headaches is important for helping your child feel better.

Your child may feel stress about missing school or having less time with friends because of the headaches. Talk about any fears or concerns he or she might have.

Work with your child's doctor

Tell your child's doctor about any headaches your child has. The doctor can help you know what type of headache it is so you can choose the best treatment. It may help to find a doctor who has experience treating headaches in children.

Keep a headache diary(What is a PDF document?). A headache diary can help you find a link between your child's headaches and the things that trigger them. Help your child write down when each headache starts, how long it lasts, where it hurts, and what the pain is like (throbbing, aching, stabbing, or dull).

The doctor can help make a treatment plan that your child can follow at home and at school. Tell your child's teachers and other caregivers about the treatment plan. Be sure to discuss any headache medicines your child takes. Encourage your child to always let caregivers know when a headache starts.

To treat migraines or tension headaches at home:

  • Give medicines for your child's headache exactly as your doctor says. If your doctor has not prescribed any medicines for headaches, give your child a pain reliever, such as children's acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Have your child go to a quiet, dark room to rest. Most headaches will go away with rest or sleep. Watching TV, using the computer, talking on the phone and sending text messages, or reading can often make the headache worse.
  • Put a cold, moist cloth or ice pack on the part of the head that hurts. If you use ice, put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin. Do not use heat, since it can make the pain worse.
  • Gently massage your child’s neck and shoulders.
  • Give your child water, juice, and other drinks that do not contain caffeine. This may help the headache go away faster. Water is the best choice.

Tell your child's doctor about any new symptoms that occur with a headache, such as a fever, weakness or numbness, vision changes, or confusion. These may be signs of a more serious problem.

Ask your doctor about other treatments that may help your child's headaches, such as biofeedback, counseling, or relaxation exercises. For more information about relaxation exercises, see:

actionset.gif Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 07, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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