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June is Migraine & Headache Awareness Month


A headache is pain felt somewhere in the head or neck. They're very common in kids and have a wide range of causes and many levels of severity. It's important to understand how to recognize when a headache is a passing pain and when it's something more and needs medical care. Two common kinds of headaches that kids get are tension headaches and migraines.

Tension headaches happen when stressed-out head or neck muscles squeeze too hard. This causes pain often described as:

  • Feeling as though someone is pressing or squeezing on the
    front, back or both sides of the head;
  • Dull;
  • Aching; and
  • Constant.

Migraine headaches are less common. They can cause:

  • Pounding, throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head;
  • Dizziness;
  • Stomachaches;
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting; and
  • Seeing spots or halos (called an aura).

Young kids with headaches may not be able to say what hurts. Parents may notice that they are cranky and less active. They may throw up or look pale or flushed. Headaches are thought to be caused by changes in chemicals, nerves or blood vessels in the area. These changes send pain messages to the brain and bring on a headache. Most headaches are related to:

  • Infections (such as ear infections, viruses like the flu or a cold, strep throat, meningitis or sinus infections);
  • Having a head injury;
  • Too little sleep or sudden changes in sleep patterns;
  • Becoming dehydrated;
  • Being under a lot of stress;
  • Allergies (hay fever);
  • Menstruation or changes in hormone levels;
  • Skipping meals; and
  • Using the computer or watching TV for a long time.

Kids with migraines often just want to sleep and may feel better when they wake up. A big part of treating migraines is avoiding the triggers that can cause them. Always consult with your child’s doctor to determine the best care and treatment options.

To access the full article on headaches for kids, click here.

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