Nichole Kycia PA-C

Currently affiliated with Ellington Pediatrics


38 West Rd
 Ellington , CT 06029

Our Location

Currently affiliated with Ellington Pediatrics
38 West Rd
Ellington , Connecticut 06029
Phone: 860-870-8841

Migraines and Headaches in Children

While most people think that headaches are an adult condition, children experience them too. Headaches are as common for children as they are for adults. In fact, 20 percent of children, between the ages of 5 and 17, have headaches. About 15 percent of these headaches are tension related and the remaining 5 percent are migraine headaches. More prepubescent boys get headaches than girls. After puberty, more girls than boys get headaches.

Many children suffer from headaches, which can be recurring episodes that cause a pressure type of pain all around the head. Headaches can last from several minutes to several days, and are usually mild to moderate in severity. They may also cause a sensitivity to light or sound.

Causes of Migraines and Headaches in Children

Headaches should be monitored so that the child's doctor can more easily identify any potential triggers. Some children that experience headaches may progress to headaches on a daily basis that can sometimes occur due to a lack of certain vitamins.

Like adults, there are several reasons why children get headaches. Some of them may include:

  • A cold or the flu
  • Sinus infection
  • Fever
  • Teeth grinding or jaw clenching
  • Injury
  • Stress
  • A reaction to certain foods or environments
  • Neurological condition

Migraine headaches are most often caused by changes in a body chemical called serotonin. This change can be triggered by a combination of factors or specific triggers, including:

  • Strong odors
  • Stress
  • A family history of migraine headaches
  • Bright lights
  • A sensitivity to sound
  • Changes in weather
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Certain foods or beverages
  • Menstrual periods

Symptoms of Migraines and Headaches in Children

Symptoms of a headache may include:

  • A tightness around the head
  • Pain that is dull and not throbbing
  • Pain that does not get worse with activity

Migraines are recurring headaches that can last anywhere from several hours to several days, with periods of relief in between. These headaches are usually more severe than others, and may interrupt a child's normal daily activities, often causing:

  • Throbbing pain on both sides of the head
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurry vision
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or sound

Prevention of Migraines and Headaches in Children

While many migraines cannot be avoided, parents can help their children prevent migraines by using some of the following methods:

  • Eating a balanced diet at a regular time
  • Identifying foods that trigger the migraine
  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
  • Exercising regularly
  • Monitoring caffeine levels
  • Reducing stress

When a child does experience a migraine, it is best to have them lie down in a cool, dark place with a wet cloth across the forehead. The doctor may prescribe certain medications to help treat migraines, which should be taken as soon as the migraine begins.

Treatment of Migraines and Headaches in Children

Treatment for children depends on the frequency and severity of the migraine or headache. Currently there are no drugs approved for use in children with migraines. Over-the-counter or prescription medication can be given to provide relief for the symptoms of a headache, and drinking fluids can also help the headache go away faster. Some additional treatments for migraines or headaches may include:

  • Resting in a darkened room
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Anti-nausea or anti-vomiting medication

Additional Resources