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June is headache and migraine awareness month. Both headaches and migraines can be scary for children and their parents. Unfortunately, they’re a common problem in children which is why it’s important to know when to treat them at home and when it’s time to seek care from a pediatric neurologist. Below is a list of common questions we receive about headaches and migraines.
What are headaches?
A headache is pain or discomfort in the head or face area. Headaches can be single or recurrent in nature and localized to one or more areas of the head and face.
What’s the difference between a headache and a migraine?
Migraines are headaches that last at least two hours. Migraines also commonly cause nausea or vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light and sound.
What causes headaches or migraines?
Many things can cause headaches or migraines. It is important to check for other symptoms like fever, nasal congestion or vomiting that may be due to an illness such as a virus or infection.
Migraines are caused by a number of factors, such as fatigue, bright lights, weather changes, among other things. Oftentimes multiple family members suffer from migraines. Stresses on the body from change in sleep, eating, hydration, or level of activity can also cause a migraine.
What’s the best way to treat headaches at home?
The best way is to start with rest, hydration and a small snack. Children with headaches will often feel better after this and will not require medication.
When should you seek treatment for your child’s headache?
You should seek treatment if there are other symptoms associated with their headache or if their headaches occur more than one day a week.
What can a specialist do to help chronic headaches or migraines?
A specialist can review daily habits to make sure they are healthy. Often increasing sleep duration or the amount of water intake will reduce headache frequency. A specialist will consider other treatments or medication if headaches continue to occur more than one day a week.
What tests does my child need for headaches?
Typically, a good history and physical exam is all that is needed. If a child’s exam is normal and there are not any unusual symptoms, other testing (blood work, X-ray, MRI) is not needed at the first office visit.
Learn more about the Texas Children’s Hospital headache clinic.