“I have a headache”, he says again, and you’re having a hard time deciding whether it is just another cry for attention, or maybe you are neglecting something serious. How can you know whether to worry or not?

Headaches in children? Are they real?

So yes, it is real, kids can suffer from headaches even at a young age. By the age of four 5% of kids will report significant headaches that appear alternately. 5% is a number we can’t dismiss, and by the age of 18, 90% of kids will report suffering from headaches!

What can cause headaches?

It is customary to classify headaches into two categories:

  1. Primary headaches - headaches without any specific reason or identifiable cause

  2. Secondary headaches - headaches that are secondary to another medical problem

Primary headaches - 

Usually, these headaches come and go, without any trend of worsening in the intensity or frequency of the pain. They appear more during times of stress, lack of sleep or when the eating and drinking habits are not regular. There are many types of primary headaches, but basically, you can find in this group of children two major types of headaches:

  1. Stress headaches - described as tension on both sides of the head in a mild intensity. The child will complain of suffering from a headache, but will usually be able to continue in his daily routine. Sometimes it might interfere with actions that require cognitive effort.

  2. Migraines - yes, kids can suffer from migraines as well. The intensity of the pain, in this case, can be mild, but usually it will be more significant and will interrupt daily activity. The pain could be on both sides or just on one side. Sometimes it will be described as “beating” or “pulsing” in the temporal area. Some kids might suffer from nausea or vomiting during the headache and some might suffer from disturbances in vision and sensitivity to light and noises around them.

 

Which situations can evoke secondary headaches?

Headaches that accompany another medical problem. Such headaches can appear during different fever illnesses, including cold, flu, pharyngitis or sinusitis. In this group, the pain will appear along with other symptoms. Some children may suffer from headaches due to other reasons, such as low blood pressure, anemia, thyroid problems or head contusion. In very rare cases headaches can manifest as a result of a tumor.

 

When should you approach medical therapy?

  1. A headache that wakes the child from his sleep

  2. A headache that lasts for days and gets worse

  3. A headache that is accompanied by vomiting

  4. A headache that appears with high fever

  5. Headaches with behavioral changes, vision disturbances, speaking difficulties or swallowing, extreme weakness, postural disturbances

  6. Headaches in children suffering from other chronic diseases such as immunosuppression, cancer, heart problems and etc.

  7. A headache in a child younger than three years old.

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