What to know about various Headaches in children?
If your child complains about headache you should manage it cautiously as it can be due to Migraine, Tension headache or prolonged screen time. Many a times parents are concerned about brain tumor but it very very unlikely to occur, let your pediatrician judge real cause of headache.
Headache is one of the commonly seen symptoms in children especially in adolescents. In 7 years of age there are chances that it occurs in nearly 35% of children whereas by the age of 15 years it may occur in nearly 80% of children. It’s difficult to sometime diagnose due to language limitation, unable to localize the pain, vague complaints about the pain or more often associated with other illness. Headache in children are likely to affect Child School performance, Physical health and causes concern to parents too.
Headaches in children can be classified as
• Primary headaches usually seen in school children
• Tension type headache
• Cluster headache
• Secondary headaches are due to do some secondary causes that can be infection, trauma, any brain lesion or any vascular related problem.
How to evaluate for the headache:
• Proper history and examination is very important to rule out secondary headaches
• Timely referral for specialist like pediatric neurologist
• Psychological and psychiatric factors for headaches
Migraine type headache:
It is most commonly seen in adolescence. It differs from childhood migraine and adulthood migraine as follows:
Duration is shorter usually 1-3 hours, childhood migraine effects on both sides of head not localized to one point as seen in adulthood migraine. Precipitating factors that is aura is infrequent. Childhood migraine is associated with nausea vomiting pain abdomen and decreased appetite. Child usually became pale and restless before and during attack.
Precipitating factors can be anxiety, stress, tension, fatique, weather change, irregular eating and sleeping pattern, dehydration, menses, noise, light and screen time.
The old name for these was “hat band headache” and that’s often what the pain area is like. Kids describe pain and pressure around their forehead or entire head, not the throbbing type as seen in migraine. Precipitating factors are emotional stress, eye strain, neck and back pain, depression and child abuse.
Diagnosis and treatment:
• History and general examination
• Blood tests to rule out infection if any
• Imaging studies to rule out any brain abnormality
• Oral medication for acute attack
• General measure to avoid occurrence of headache.
Pharmacological treatment/ oral medication:
• Oral analgesics: like ibuprofen/mefenemic acid
• Antiemetics to control vomiting and nausea
• Medicines to control internal problems
• Educate kids for such pains like discussing about aggravating factors relieving factors
• Stress management
• Sleep pattern
• Regular exercises
• Counseling of children