Headaches in Children

Types of Headaches in Children

The two most common types of children's headaches are tension headaches and migraines.
Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are named not only for the role that stress may play in triggering the pain, but also for the contraction of neck, face, and scalp muscles brought on by stressful events. This is the most common type of headache seen in children.
A tension headache is a severe (but temporary) form of muscle-contraction headache. The pain is mild to moderate and feels like pressure is being applied to the head or neck. The headache usually disappears after the period of stress is over (see Tension Headache Symptoms).
It is thought that up to 10 percent of children will develop migraines before the age of 18 (8 percent of boys and 23 percent of girls). A migraine is a type of vascular headache characterized by severe pain felt on one, and sometimes both, sides of the head (children are more likely to have migraine pain on both sides). Besides pain, children with migraine headaches may have nausea and vomiting, and may be very sensitive to light and sound (see Migraine Symptoms).
There are actually several different types of migraines. The two most common types are migraines with aura and migraines without aura. During a migraine with aura, a person has visual symptoms (also called an "aura") 10 minutes to 30 minutes before an attack. During a migraine without aura, a person does not have an aura, but does have the other migraine symptoms.
Another type of migraine in children is known as an abdominal migraine. This variation of a migraine is more common in children and typically involves moderate-to-severe pain in the midline of the abdomen. If left untreated, the pain can last from 1 to 72 hours. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and loss of skin color (pallor). A child with this type of migraine usually has a family history of migraines. He or she will also most likely develop typical migraines later in life.
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