6 Reasons Why Your Child could be suffering from Headaches

headache-in-childrenChildhood should be a happy time.  But according to recent research from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center 10 percent of school-age children at some point will experience headache pain.  They’re not alone, as many as 15 to 27 percent of teens also experience headaches.   We often think of headaches as an adult-only experience, but kids get headaches, too.  Some of the causes of headaches in children are the exact same causes that trigger adult headache pain.  Fortunately, less than 5 percent of headaches are the result of a serious illness or disorder.

Common Triggers of Random Headaches in Children:

Caffeine/Diet.  It’s not uncommon to find caffeine lurking in many foods like soda, tea and chocolate.  Also, irregular mealtimes can be a culprit.  Skipping a snack or even breakfast can make for a rough school day.  Skipping meals lower blood sugar levels, so have your child carry a snack in case a stretch of time between meals goes a little longer than expected.

Sometimes school schedule changes can throw a household off-track.  Although it can be difficult, consistency when it comes to routines, even mealtimes, can go a long way.  Also what the meal consists of is just as important as the time it’s served.  Be sure that every meal includes nutritious vegetables and fruits as well as family favorites.

You may also want to rethink your child’s lunchtime meals.  Certain food additives can trigger headaches like nitrates found in hot dogs and lunchmeats as well as MSG (monosodium glutamate) found in many processed foods.

Sleep.  Adults are just as guilty as kids are when it comes to getting enough sleep.  Kids and teens need at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night.  Nothing can trigger a headache like inadequate sleep.  Does your child sleep through the night?  Do they wake up often in the middle of the night?  Do they snore? Sleep apnea is not only suffered by adults but children can have difficulty breathing at night, too.

Eyesight.  Is your child squinting to read the blackboard or maybe text books? If your child is straining to see a computer screen or something far away, it may mean it’s time for an eye exam.  A vision test can rule out any major issues and at least rule out vision as a cause for the headaches.

Water.  Another culprit behind headaches is lack of fluids.  When things get busy and the weather gets warmer, it’s easy to forget to slow down and replenish our fluids.  If you’re children are especially active, school sports included, the answer to the problem might be to have them drink more water.

Stress.  Just like adults kids experience stress, too.  A new school year, and even a new school can be a stressful time for a child.  School stress is not necessarily a bad thing. It can motivate and challenge your child in the classroom. But stress becomes an issue when it interferes with a child’s development.

Tension headaches are triggered by emotional stress.  Children can experience all types of stress at school such as bullying, self-image issues and pressures to be a “straight-A student.”  Sometimes pressures can begin at home.  Has there been a new addition to the family?  Are you and your spouse going through a divorce?

Family History of Headaches. Research shows that family history plays a role in identifying the cause of headache pain.  For instance, if you have had headaches as a child, your child is more likely to suffer from them.

What you can do if your child has a headache

If your child experiences a headache, try giving them water and an over-the-counter ibuprofen.  Be sure to follow the instructions found on the package for the proper dose.  If the child’s headache worsens or it continues for more than a day, call as the New Newport Children’s Medical Group at one of our four handy locations.

The beginning of a new school year can be fraught with mishaps and unexpected challenges in any household.  Dr. Reda and Newport Children’s Medical Group now accepts Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Health Net Covered California plans for your convenience.