- Pain or discomfort of the head
- This includes the forehead to the back of the head
- Not caused by a head injury
- Viral illnesses. Most headaches are part of a viral illness, especially with colds. Most often, these last a few days.
- Muscle tension headaches. Most common type of frequent headaches. Muscle tension headaches give a feeling of tightness around the head. The neck muscles also become sore and tight. Tension headaches can be caused by staying in one position for a long time. This can happen when reading or using a computer. Other children get tension headaches as a reaction to stress or worry. Examples of stress in children are pressure for better grades or family arguments.
- Migraine headaches. Severe, very painful headaches that keep your child from doing normal activities. They are throbbing and often occur on one side. Vomiting or nausea are present in 80%. Lights and sound make them worse. Most children want to lie down in a dark, quiet room. Will recur.
- Other common causes. Hunger, hard work or sports, sunlight, coughing.
- Frontal sinusitis. Can cause a frontal headache just above the eyebrow. Rare before 10 years old because frontal sinus not formed yet. Other sinuses cause face pain, not headache.
- Serious causes. Meningitis or encephalitis. Symptoms include a headache, stiff neck, vomiting, fever and confusion.
- Mild: Your child feels pain and tells you about it. But, the pain does not keep your child from any normal activities. School, play and sleep are not changed.
- Moderate: The pain keeps your child from doing some normal activities. It may wake him or her up from sleep.
- Severe: The pain is very bad. It keeps your child from doing all normal activities.
When to Call Us for Headache
Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
Call Us Now (night or day) If
Call Us During Weekday Office Hours If
Parent Care at Home If
CARE ADVICE FOR HEADACHES
Treatment for Mild HeadacheWhat You Should Know:
- Headaches are very common with some viral illnesses. Most often, these will go away in 2 or 3 days.
- Unexplained headaches can occur in children, just as they do in adults. They usually pass in a few hours or last up to a day.
- Most headaches (including muscle tension headaches) are helped by the following measures.
- To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
- Headaches due to fever are also helped by bringing the fever down.
- Give fruit juice or food if your child is hungry.
- If your child hasn't eaten in more than 4 hours, offer some food.
- Reason: Skipping a meal can cause a headache in many children.
- Lie down in a quiet place and relax until feeling better.
- Put a cold pack or a cold wet washcloth on the forehead.
- Do this for 20 minutes.
- Stretch and rub any tight neck muscles.
- Headache becomes severe
- Vomiting occurs
- Headache without other symptoms lasts more than 24 hours
- Headache lasts more than 3 days
- Your child becomes worse