Here’s when you should worry about your child’s headache

Here’s when you should worry about your child’s headache

Your child says her head is pounding. Do you simply suggest she lie down in a quiet room, do you head over to the medicine chest or do you call her pediatrician?

Most parents don’t want to overreact, but at the same time, they don’t want to miss signs of something serious. The problem is, how do you know when to worry about your child’s headache?

Dr. Amr Megahed, a pediatrician at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., offers the following list of red flags for parents:

  • Headaches in children younger than 5
  • Headaches at night or headaches that wake your child from sleep
  • Headaches after trauma, such as falling and hitting their head on something
  • Neurological changes or mental status changes associated with headaches
  • Progressively escalating severity of headaches

“Headache associated with other systemic symptoms can be a concern, too, such as unexplained weight changes, rashes, intractable vomiting or bowel or bladder changes,” Dr. Megahed says.

Dr. Megahed added that it’s rare for the cause of children’s headaches to be serious. Most often, they are caused by the same factors as in adults, such as extreme hunger or thirst, not getting enough sleep, eye strain and foods and beverages containing caffeine.

The bottom line: Don’t worry needlessly, but be aware if things just don’t seem right, because headache can be associated with illnesses that require immediate action.

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About the Author

Kathleen Troher
Kathleen Troher

Kathleen Troher, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington. She has more than 20 years of journalism experience, with her primary focus in the newspaper and magazine industry. Kathleen graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, earning her degree in journalism with an emphasis on science writing and broadcasting. She loves to travel with her husband, Ross. They share their home with a sweet Samoyed named Maggie.