Headaches in Children - Topic Overview
What types of headaches can children have?
tension headaches are common types of headaches in
children. These headaches have different symptoms, but they can sometimes be
hard to tell apart.
It's important to find out what kind of headache your child has, since
the medicines and other treatments may be different. Different things can
trigger each kind of headache in different people. Talk to your child's doctor
about any headaches your child has.
What causes headaches in children?
It isn't clear
why some people get migraine headaches and others do not.
Migraines often run in families. Experts aren't sure what causes migraines.
The cause of tension headaches also isn't
clear. Experts believe there may be more than one cause.
In the past, doctors believed that tension or spasms of the muscles of the
neck, face, jaw, head, or scalp played a role. Now they think a change in brain
chemistry may also cause a tension headache.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of migraine headaches include:
- Throbbing that can be felt on one side or both sides of the
head. The pain also can move from one side of the head to the
- Nausea, vomiting, or both.
- Sensitivity to light,
noise, and sometimes smells.
- Changes in vision, such as flashing
lights or dark spots, before the headache starts. This symptom, called
aura, is more common in adults than in children.
Symptoms of tension headaches include:
- A constant ache that does not throb or pulse. Your child
will probably feel pain or pressure on both sides of the
- Tightness around the head or forehead.
pain at the temples or the back of the head and neck.
What other signs of headaches should you watch for?
Some children, especially younger ones, may not always tell you when they
feel a headache. So watch for other signs. A headache may cause your child to:
- Act cranky or upset.
asleep at an unusual time or act sleepy.
- Be less active than usual
or not watch TV.
- Rub his or her eyes or head.
noise or bright light.
If you notice any signs, find out how your child is
feeling. Talk with your child about letting you and other caregivers know as
soon as a headache starts.