A neurologist talks about kids and headaches

It’s not unusual for a kid to complain of a headache. However what ought to a mum or dad do? When do you have to fear? What are options which might be trigger for concern and will immediate a name to the pediatrician, or perhaps a journey to the emergency room? For youths with complications, do they essentially have to take remedy, or are there different nondrug remedies that could be simply as efficient?

When to name your pediatrician

The cardinal rule for desirous about complications is “first or worst.” In sensible phrases, in case your little one has by no means had a headache earlier than, you must consider fastidiously.

  • Did he have any current head trauma, akin to a fall or a sports activities harm?
  • Was she sick with a nasty virus?
  • Is he vomiting or does he have a fever?
  • Is she unable to stroll, speak, and eat usually?

If the reply to any of those questions is “sure,” it’s time to name the pediatrician. A concussion, a extreme an infection, or perhaps a uncommon however extra ominous trigger for a headache could possibly be the set off. Many individuals fear a few mind tumor, however that is impossible. It is best to by no means be alone with fear about your little one’s headache, and your pediatrician may also help to steer you towards one of the best therapy.

Children can expertise migraine complications

Youngsters can and do get migraine complications. The speed is estimated at 5.5%, however underdiagnosis could falsely decrease the quantity. Take into consideration migraine specifically if a mum or dad has migraines, as there’s a sturdy genetic hyperlink. Children’ migraines are completely different than adults’: the ache may be on each side of the pinnacle and never final as lengthy. However identical to in grownups, children may be completely incapacitated with a migraine, with profuse nausea and vomiting and the necessity to lie in a darkish room. It’s not attainable to make a analysis after only one headache, although. Children have to have at the least two episodes to be recognized with migraine. Ibuprofen generally is a very efficient therapy as soon as a headache hits, however don’t overlook about ice, which might additionally relieve ache and reduce irritation. A bag of frozen peas is light-weight, and the kid can place it comfortably over his or her head.

There’s a migraine-specific class of medication referred to as triptans that’s used to cease migraines once they begin. One formulation referred to as zolmitriptan is accepted to be used in youngsters. It is available in a nasal spray so it may be used for youths who can’t swallow capsules. For youngsters with frequent migraines, it could be essential to attempt to stop them. Sure drugs are used for each youngsters and adults, akin to amitriptyline and topiramate. A current research discovered that combining amitriptyline with a type of cognitive behavioral remedy (a sort of mind-body work that helps to alter an individual’s response to ache and anxiousness) may be simpler than the drug alone. And a few youngsters will reply to cognitive behavioral therapies alone as preventives. Medical insurance usually covers these remedies, so make sure you ask about choices.

The extra typical child headache

Pressure-type complications are extra frequent. The outdated title for these was “hat band headache” and that’s usually what the ache is like. Children describe strain round their brow or complete head, not the throbbing of a migraine. Usually they will perform, eat, go to high school, and even play sports activities though they don’t really feel properly. Ibuprofen could assist, and rest and fluids could also be sufficient to deal with a tension-type headache.

Plenty of dad and mom are involved about display screen time triggering headache, and it’s a legitimate concern. Vibrant lights and screens undoubtedly can set off migraines in prone youngsters and adults, however watching a pc, cellphone, or iPad can set off a headache for anybody if used for too lengthy. Encourage limits on display screen time, taking breaks, and getting as much as stretch when working or enjoying video games.

It’s vital to ask about stress and anxiousness when evaluating your little one’s headache. Faculty-avoidance complications may be powerful to diagnose. Cautious questions and dialogue with academics and steering counselors could assist a mum or dad work out if a headache is definitely a approach for a kid to keep away from bullying or a tough state of affairs in school. This hopefully results in intervention and backbone of the triggers.

The underside line

In case your little one tells you she has a headache, take her severely. Ask questions on kind of ache, different signs, and up to date occasions. Enlist your pediatrician to assist make the correct analysis. It could be helpful to see a pediatric neurologist. And if the kid has a fever, can’t cease vomiting, or tells you he has double imaginative and prescient or bother transferring his arms or legs, go on to the emergency room. Possibilities of this are very uncommon. Most complications are very treatable.


Pediatric migraine. Medscape Neurology Clinics, 2009.

Trajectory of Enchancment in Youngsters and Adolescents With Persistent Migraine: Outcomes From the Cognitive-Behavioral Remedy and Amitriptyline Trial. Journal of Ache, June 2017.

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