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Headaches in Children - Medicines

Medicines for migraine headaches

Migraines can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as children's acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If this doesn't help stop your child's headaches, or if the headaches occur often, your doctor may prescribe medicines.

Medicines for children's migraines are being researched. Sumatriptan is a medicine doctors sometimes prescribe to treat children's migraines. This medicine has been shown to work well in adults with migraines. More research is being done on the safety of migraine medicines for children.

Have your child take his or her medicines at the first sign of a migraine. This helps stop the headache before it gets worse.

Your doctor also may prescribe medicines to help with nausea.

If your child's migraines are severe, happen often, or interfere with school or other activities, your doctor may prescribe a daily medicine to help prevent them. Have your child take that medicine every day, even if he or she does not have a headache.

Medicines for tension headaches

Tension headaches can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as children's acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

If your child's headaches are severe, happen often, or interfere with school or other activities, your doctor may prescribe a daily medicine to help prevent them. Have your child take the medicine every day, even if he or she does not have a headache.

Giving medicines to children safely

Be careful about giving over-the-counter pain relievers often. Over time, this can make your child's headaches happen more often or get worse. Ask your doctor how often your child should take these medicines.

Here are some other important safety tips:

  • Give medicines to your child exactly as your doctor says.
  • Read and follow all the instructions on the medicine label. Even medicines labeled for children can harm your child if they're not taken the right way.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.

Learn more about giving over-the-counter medicines to children.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    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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