Headache is one of the most common complaints in children and adolescents . A headache is the pain in the area of the head, neck or face. It can affect any part of the head or may be present in one or several locations. Generally the causes of headache are not that serious which may include stress, cold and cough, dehydration, lack of sleep or eye problem. But if the headaches are severe and persistent and are disturbing their day to day life, they should be properly checked by the doctor.
Types of headache
The headache in kids can be divided into two type, based on the reasons of headache
Primary headache :
The reason for primary headache is not related to any specific health condition or when the head pain itself is the main problem and not due to any health condition. Primary headache also includes:
- Tension headache: It is the most common type of headache in kids triggered by stress, lack of sleep, mental or emotional conflicts.
- Migraines: Migraine pain is usually more severe, which is often felt on one side of the head. It can run in families. While they can be painful and disruptive at the time, migraines are not usually a serious problem, and they are not life-threatening. Migraine headaches may be caused by changes in brain chemicals or nerve signals.
- Cluster headaches: This is the headache on the one side of the head that happens in groups or clusters. This type of headache comes in groups or periods. Most people who get cluster headaches have one or two cluster periods each year. A cluster period might last 1 month or longer.
when headache is the symptom of any other health condition like brain injury, eye stain, viral infection and dehydration.
Symptoms of headache in kids
Symptoms of headache may vary from child to child depending upon the type of headache one is having. So the symptoms for different types of headache are different.
Symptoms of tension headache:
- Mild to moderate
- Pain on the both side of the head
- Sore muscles or tightness in the muscles of the head or neck
- Difficulty in sleeping ( foods that can help in sleeping well)
- Dull pain
Symptoms of Migraine headache
- Throbbing pain
- Pain on one or both side of the head
- Pain that worsen with activity
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite (How to improve your child,s appetite?)
Symptoms of cluster headache
- Severe pain on one side of the head
- Occur in group of five or more episodes
- Stabbing and sharp pain
- Congestion or runny nose ( Remedies for congestion)
- Teary eyes
When to see a doctor
Mostly the headache in kids is not serious but if you notice any of the below symptoms, your child needs medical attention immediately.
- The headaches begin to disrupt your child’s school, home or social life
- Pain became worse or more frequent
- Distrubed sleep due to headache
- Headache last for more then two days
- More then once in a week
- If the child is under 3 years of age and experience headache
- Blurred vision
- accompanied by fever and neck pain or stiffness
Causes of headache
There are a number of causes that can result in headaches in kids. Some most common causes are :
Genetics: headache especially migraine runs in the family. If the child has a family history of migraine, then he/ she is at higher risk
Illness: Some common illnesses like cold, flu, ear infection, sinus can cause headache in kids.(Remedies for cold and cough)
Head injury: head injury can also cause headache. If the child complain headache after a head injury you should immediately consult your doctor
Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can be the reason for headache in kids. Mental or emotional conflict can trigger tension headaches.
Some foods and beverages: If the child is allergic to any particular food that can cause headache. Also certain preservatives and additives can trigger headaches. Too much caffeine contained in soda, chocolates and sports drinks can cause headaches. (Effects of preservative)
Certain Brain conditions: This is rare but brain tumour or abscess or bleeding in the brain can press on areas of the brain, causing a chronic, worsening headache.
Treatment for headache
Treatment of headache, to the great extent, depends upon the severity of the headache and the type of headache the child is experiencing. However normally with the help of these tips you can comfort your child at home.
- Resting in a quiet and dark room.
- Medicine as recommended by the doctor
- Getting enough sleep
- A cold compress on the head can have a numbing effect.
- Managing stress
- Avoid food that can trigger headache
- Keep the child hydrated
- No skipping meal
- Getting exercise.
Foods that can help
By making the right food choices for your child you can avoid or reduce the risk of headache. Foods rich in magnesium, omega 3 and vitamin B2 may help prevent headache in kids. Here is the list of food that you can add to your kid’s diet.
Leafy green vegetables are a rich source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. According to a study, foods rich in magnesium, folic acid, B6, and B12 reduced migraine symptoms. Vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli and avocado are rich in all these nutrients and can help your child during a headache.
nuts are a good source of magnesium which is proven to soothe head pain by relaxing the blood vessels. They are packed with antioxidants, protein, calcium, fiber, potassium, and healthy fats like omega 3. Nuts are a good source of vitamin E that research has shown can help control migraines. Some of the nuts that you should include in your child’s diet are almonds, cashew nut, walnut and hazelnut
Seeds are rich in omega3 fatty acid, which can reduce the production of molecules and substances which results in inflammation that may cause headache. It also contains a decent amount of magnesium which may help prevent blood vessel spasms. Few seeds to include in your kids diet are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds and chia seeds.
Dark chocolate is rich in cocoa which is loaded with zinc, iron, copper, and vitamins like A, B12 and K. It relaxes arteries and increases blood circulation. It is loaded with antioxidants called flavonoid and polyphenols which help to fight and repair cell damage
It contains natural oil.The chemical compounds in this oil, which include gingerols and shogaols have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Ginger extracts may also increase serotonin( happy hormones). Increasing the serotonin levels in your brain may help stop migraine by reducing inflammation and restricting blood vessels.
Chamomile acts as a natural pain reliever as it eases minor pains and aches in the body. It can also provide relief from any tension or inflammation present in the body and helps to reduce muscle spasms. They help to relieve your physical and emotional tension, allowing you to drift off to sleep naturally.
Lemon balm may be useful in treating tension headaches, especially if they’re happening as a result of stress. Its relaxing properties can help you to release tension, and relax your muscles. It also helps to open up and relax tight blood vessels, which can contribute to headaches.
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