Headaches are common in childhood. Most of the time, they are nothing to worry about and are caused by common minor illnesses — a mild bump to the head, too little sleep , not getting enough food or fluids, or stress. Migraines can also be seen in childhood, but with awareness and avoidance of triggers, they don’t usually cause problems.
Sometimes, though, headaches are a problem — and something to worry about.
Here is when parents should take note:
1. When a headache is accompanied by a fever and a stiff neck .
Your child should be able to look up at the ceiling, touch his chin to his chest and shake his head back and forth. If he can’t, you should bring him to an emergency room to be sure he doesn’t have meningitis.
2. When the ache is severe and unrelenting despite acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
3. When a headache is accompanied by frequent or persistent vomiting, especially in the absence of other signs of illness like fever or diarrhea .
It may merely be a virus, and children may have vomiting after a head bump, but it’s worth a call to the doctor, as vomiting can be a sign of pressure on the brain.
4. When along with a headache, your child is unusually sleepy or has trouble walking, talking, or doing other normal activities .
5. When a headache wakes your child from sleep.
Sometimes children wake up for other reasons and realize they have a headache; that doesn’t count. But if the pain itself is waking the child from sleep, that’s not the average headache and you should call your doctor.
6. When a headache is worse lying down.
This can be a sign of increased pressure on the brain. If you notice that this is the pattern, call your doctor.
Whenever there is something about a headache that worries you, even if it isn’t on this list — seek medical attention for your child. I always respect a parent’s instincts — so if something doesn’t seem right to you, or if you have a question, get help immediately.
Treatment for Migraines and Headaches in Southern California
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