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When to See a Specialist About Your Child’s Headaches

When to See a Specialist About Your Child’s Headaches

Children can get all the same types of headaches as adults, including severe headaches and migraines. 10% of children ages 5-15 and up to 28% of teens struggle with debilitating migraine headaches.

The caring team at THINK Neurology for Kids specializes in identifying the type of headache causing your child’s pain and providing customized treatment that eases their symptoms and helps prevent future headaches. 

Here, they explain children’s common headaches and list the signs alerting parents to seek medical attention.

Common headaches in children

These are five of the most common pediatric headaches:

Tension headaches

Tension headaches typically cause mild to moderate pain. The pain feels like a constant, dull ache or a band of pressure around the head. Many children also have neck pain and may develop fatigue when they have a tension headache.


Migraines are one of the most painful headaches anyone can experience. They have been reported in children as young as 18 months, and half of all children who get migraines have their first headache before age 12.

These excruciating headaches are caused by neurological changes that cause a cascade of events. In adults, the surge of electrical activity is triggered by things like too little sleep, skipping meals, stress, and weather changes. In children, migraines may begin with or without a trigger.

Migraine symptoms include: 

Some children may experience an aura before a migraine. Aura develops when neurological changes cause symptoms, such as seeing wavy lines or flashing lights or feeling tingling sensations.

Congestion headaches (sinus headaches)

You can usually tell if it’s a congestion headache because the pain and pressure are around your child’s sinuses, located above the eyebrow, behind the eye, and under the cheekbone. Your child will also have a stuffy and/or runny nose, indicating the sinuses are blocked and likely infected.

Headaches following a head injury

Though you expect your child to have a headache if they fall or suffer a head injury during athletic activities, headaches are also one of the top signs of a concussion.

In addition to a headache, children with a concussion may experience:

Concussions occur when a blow to your child’s head or body makes their head snap back and forth or side to side. As a result, their brain bounces against the skull. Even a mild concussion can bruise your child’s brain, damage the nerves, and affect brain function.

Medication overuse headaches (analgesic-rebound headaches)

If your child regularly takes pain-relieving medications for headaches, the medication can start causing headaches. This type of headache often develops when frequently taking medications to relieve migraine pain. But medication overuse headaches can also occur in children experiencing tension and post-injury headaches.

Medication overuse headaches tend to cause pain behind your child’s eyes and around their forehead. They may also feel groggy, irritable and have flu-like body aches.

When to seek specialized care

Occasional tension headaches that improve with rest, rehydration, and over-the-counter pain relievers seldom need medical attention. 

If you give your child a pain reliever, don’t use aspirin. Instead, give them acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin® and Advil®). And never exceed the dosage and frequency recommended on the box.

Connect with us to schedule an evaluation if your child has:

You should also seek treatment if your child needs pain relievers more than three times a week.

Get immediate medical attention if your child has:

Call THINK Neurology for Kids if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s headache pain. You can also connect online and request an appointment at their four offices in The Woodlands, Katy, Sugarland, and Lakeway, Texas.

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