Headaches in Children

Headaches in Children 

Headaches in children are common and not serious. Just like adults, children also develop different types of headaches, including migraines or stress-related (tension) headaches. Children can also have chronic daily headaches.

In some cases, headaches in children are caused by an infection, high levels of stress or anxiety, or minor head trauma. It’s important to pay attention to your child’s headache symptoms and consult a doctor if the headache worsens or occurs frequently.

Headaches in children usually can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications and healthy habits such as a regular schedule for sleeping and eating.


Children get the same types of headaches adults to do, but their symptoms may be a little different. For example, migraine pain in adults often lasts at least four hours — but in children, the pain may be much less than that.

Differences in symptoms may make it difficult to pinpoint headache type in a child, especially in a younger child who can’t describe symptoms. In general, though, certain symptoms tend to fall more frequently under certain categories.


Migraines can cause:headaches in children

  • Pulsating, throbbing or pounding head pain
  • Pain that worsens with exertion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Extreme sensitivity to light and sound

Even infants can have migraines. A child who’s too young to tell you what’s wrong may cry and hold his or her head to indicate severe pain.

Tension-type headache

Tension-type headaches can cause:

  • A pressing tightness in the muscles of the head or neck
  • Mild to moderate, non pulsating pain on both sides of the head
  • Pain that’s not worsened by physical activity
  • Headache that’s not accompanied by nausea or vomiting, as is often the case with migraine

Younger children may withdraw from regular play and want to sleep more. Tension-type headaches can last from 30 minutes to several days.

Cluster headache

Cluster headaches are uncommon in children under 10 years of age. They usually:

  • Occur in groups of five or more episodes, ranging from one headache every other day to eight a day
  • Involve sharp, stabbing pain on one side of the head that lasts less than three hours
  • Are accompanied by tears, congestion, runny nose, or restlessness or agitation

Several factors can cause your child to develop headaches. Factors include:

  • Common illnesses and infections like colds, flu, and ear and sinus infections are some of the common causes of headaches in children. Meningitis or encephalitis may cause headaches but in rare cases
  • Bumps and bruises also cause headaches. 
  • Most head injuries are minor but if a child falls hard on his or her head and gets themselves hit hard in the head needs emergency medical treatment. 
  • Emotional factors such as stress and anxiety or feelings of sadness and loneliness triggered by problems also play a role in children’s headaches.
  • Headaches or mainly migraines run in the blood.
  • Nitrates, food additives, or high intake of caffeine or caffeinated drinks causes headaches.
  • In rare cases, a brain tumor or abscess or bleeding in the brain that develops pressing in the brain also causes a chronic and worsening headache.

A child’s headache can be treated at home with lots of rest, decreased noise, plenty of fluids, balanced meals, and OTC pain relievers. If your child is older and has frequent headaches, learn to relax the child and manage stress through different ways or therapies will help too.


  • Otc pain medications like Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others) can relieve headaches if taken at the first sign. Use caution and ask your doctor before using any medication to the children especially aspirin.
  •  Prescribed medications like Triptans are used to treat migraines and are also effective for children. If a child shows symptoms like nausea or vomiting with migraines, the doctor may prescribe an anti-nausea drug.

Use medications with doctor’s prescription pr else it can cause Medication overuse headaches.


Stress act as a trigger for headaches or can make it worse. Depression and other mental health illnesses also play a role. In these conditions, the doctor may recommend behavior therapies. For example:

  • Relaxation therapies and techniques like deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, in which the tension of one muscle is released at a time.
  • Biofeedback therapy teaches the child to control certain body responses that help in reducing pain. During a biofeedback training session, the child is connected to monitoring devices that give feedback on multiple body functions, such as muscle tension, heart rate, or blood pressure. 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps the child learn to manage stress and reduce the severity of headaches and helps the child to take such events more positively. 
Home Remedies

Counter pain relievers are usually effective in reducing headache pain in children. But before giving the child pain drugs, keep some important points in mind: 

  • First, read labels carefully and use the dosages recommended by the doctor.
  • Do not give high doses than recommended.
  • Do not give the child OTC pain medication than two or three days a week. Because daily use of drugs can trigger a medication overuse headache.
  • Use precautions before and when using aspirin to children or teenagers.

In addition to therapies and OTC pain drugs, following lifestyle changes can help ease and give comfort to the child from headache:

  • Relax the child and give him plenty of rest. Sleeping for enough hours also comforts children
  • Compressing a wet cloth at child’s forehead also give him rest and relaxes
  • Give a healthy balanced diet to the child containing fruits, whole grains, and low-fat items. 
Alternative medicines

Although there are no such effective results but several dietary supplements are suggested to help reduce the children’s headaches and give him enough energy. These supplements include:

  • Riboflavin
  • Magnesium
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Vitamin D
  • Melatonin

If you use any herbal ingredient first ask your doctor about the side effects it can cause or is it good to give with the combination of drugs. 

Alternative treatments

Some of the alternative treatments are also referred to as relax the child and give him comfort and reduce the pain. Those are:

  1. Acupuncture 
  2. Massage 
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