Dr Rohit Kiran Cherukuri


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Childhood Headache Symptoms & Conditions

Childhood Headache

A headache is one of the most common complaints of children and teenagers. There are many different types of headaches. Each type may be treated differently. A detailed history and physical exam can help figure out what kind of headache the child has.

Types of Headaches in Children

Headaches in children may be caused by primary problems associated with the structures of the brain as tight muscles, dilated blood vessels or inflammation of the structures in the brain, or at times may also be linked with any serious structural problem in the brain or with conditions like epilepsy. Discussing it with a pediatric neurologist can help you know the cause of it. Some reasons for childhood headaches are:


Migraines may start early in childhood. Children as early as 7-10 years may have Migraine. While every child may experience symptoms differently, the following are the most common symptoms of a migraine:

➡️ Pain on one or both sides of the head
➡️ Pain may be pounding type (although young children may not be able to describe their pain)
➡️ The child will get sensitive to light and sound
➡️ Nausea and/or vomiting accompanies the headache
➡️ Abdominal discomfort
➡️ Sweating along with headache
➡️ The child may become quiet or pale during the episode of migraine
➡️ Some children may experience peculiar symptoms before a migraine attack. Such as a sense of flashing lights, a change in vision, or funny smells

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Stress and mental or emotional conflicts often trigger tension headaches. While every child may experience symptoms differently, the following are the most common symptoms of a tension headache:

➡️ Slow onset of the headache
➡️ The Head usually hurts on both sides
➡️ Pain is dull
➡️ Pain is mild to moderate, but not severe
➡️ It May be associated with a change in the child’s sleep habits
➡️ Children with tension headaches typically do not experience nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches usually occur in a series that may last weeks or months. Such headaches may keep repeating every year or two. The most common symptoms of a cluster headache include:

➡️ Severe pain on one side of the head
➡️ Headache may be reported behind one eye. The eye that is affected may have a droopy lid, small pupil, or redness and swelling of the eyelid
➡️ Runny nose or congestion
➡️ Swelling of the forehead

Headache from infection – These headaches occur in viral infections such as colds and flu, and last only as long as the illness lasts. Sinus congestion and infections can cause also cause headaches that radiate around the face and nose.

Headaches after a head injury – Headaches are common after a child suffers a head injury. They are usually mild and go away within a short time. Sometimes, though, the pain may occur for several weeks or months after an injury.

Headaches with dental problems: At times problems related to the teeth, jawbones, or joints which open and close the mouth can also be a cause of headaches.

When to call the doctor for your child’s Headache?

You should meet a doctor for your child’s headache if:

➡️ The headache occurs every day, especially if it interferes with school or play
➡️ It occurs along with other symptoms such as pain in the eye or ear, confusion, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, or any other unusual symptoms
➡️ It keeps coming back
➡️ The headache is similar to what any other family member has
➡️ The headache has presented after a head injury
➡️ It is severe enough to wake him up from sleep

It is always advisable to keep a track of the type and pattern of your child’s headache and meet a pediatric neurologist in case of concern. Treatment of your child’s headache will depend on the type after a diagnosis is made.