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Headache in Children – Causes and Symptoms of Headache in Children

Headache is the feeling of pain and discomfort in any part of the head. They are common in children and does not involve any complications. Children can also develop headaches such as stress related headaches, chronic headaches and migraines like adults but the symptoms may differ from both.

Headaches in children are caused generally caused by minor head trauma, high levels of anxiety and stress or an infection. Headaches may interfere with the child’s ability to participate in activities and school performances. It is hence considered to be a significant health problem.

Causes of Headache in Children

Headache in children is caused by many factors, either singly or in combination.

  • Certain foods and beverages – Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a food additive that is found in many foods such as hot dogs, bologna and bacon is known to cause headache. Caffeine present in tea, coffee, chocolate and soda lso causes headaches.
  • Emotional factors – High levels of anxiety, stress and depression play an important role in causing headaches in children. Children with feelings of loneliness and sadness also complain of headaches.
  • Environmental factors – Weather conditions such as rains, heat and cold and their sudden changes can cause headaches.
  • Illness and infection – Many illnesses accompany along with the headache. Infections of sinus and ear, flu and cold cause headaches.
  • Head trauma – Minor head injuries, accidental bruises and bumps can cause headaches.

The risk of developing headaches is common in:

  • Children with a family history of headaches or migraines
  • Girls after they reach puberty
  • Boys before they reach puberty
  • Children older than 10 years


Symptoms of Headache in Children

Headaches in children are the same as headaches in adults but symptoms differ in both. For example, in case of migraine headache, in adults only one side of the head is affected whereas in children both the sides of head are affected. The types of headache and their symptoms are as follows.

  • Migraine – The symptoms of migraine are:
    • Extreme sensitivity to light and pain
    • Abdominal pain
    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Lasts for an hour or two
  • Tension headaches – In this headaches, pressing tightness occurs on both sides of the head. It lasts for 30 minutes to many days.
  • Chronic headaches – This headache occurs when a child takes pain medications too often. It lasts for more than 15 days a month for about more than 3 months.
  • Cluster headaches – It causes a sharp and stabbing pain on one side of the head. It lasts for less than 3 hours.


When to seek a medical professional

Take the child to a doctor immediately if the headaches:

  • Are accompanied with fever, neck pain and stiffness
  • Are accompanied with visual changes and vomiting
  • Follow an injury such as head trauma
  • Occur once in a month

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