Headaches in Children
There are many reasons for a child to have a headache, including infections, trauma, and stress. According to previous studies, as many as half of all children who are at least 15 years old experience some type of headache. Although most headaches are minor, approximately 10 percent of headaches are caused by other medical conditions, such as infections or other serious illnesses.
An Overview of Headaches in Children
The term "headache" is used to describe aching or pain that occurs in the head, face, mouth, or neck. A headache is one of the most common symptoms experienced by adults in today's society. Headaches are also common in children. Headache research shows that as children enter adolescence and encounter the stresses of puberty and secondary school, the frequency of headaches increases. In one large study, up to one-third of children who were at least 7 years old, and one-half of the children who were at least 15 years old, had some type of headache. Frequent headaches were reported in up to 2.5 percent of children who were at least 7 years old, and 15 percent of children who were at least 15 years of age.
Triggers of Childhood Headaches
As with headaches in adults, many things can cause headaches in children. Some possible headache triggers in children include:
- Lack of food
- Lack or sleep or changes in sleep patterns
- Bright light or loud noise
- Hormonal changes
- Strong odors
- Certain foods (see Migraine Food Triggers)
- Caffeine (which is in soda, chocolate, and energy drinks)
- Other emotional factors, such as frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement
- Illnesses or infections, such as an ear infection, sinus infection, strep throat, urinary tract infection (UTI), the common cold, or the flu
- Minor head injury.
Headaches also tend to run in families. So, if you or your partner has headaches, your child is more likely to have them also.
Keep in mind that most headaches are not signs that something more is wrong. Only 10 percent of headaches are caused by other medical conditions, such as infections or other serious illnesses.