Pediatric - Headache
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Does this describe your child's symptoms?
- Pain or discomfort of the scalp or forehead areas
- The face and ears are excluded
- Viral illnesses: Most headaches are part of a viral illness, especially with colds. These usually last a few days.
- Muscle tension headaches: Most common type of recurrent headaches
- Migraine headaches: Recurrent severe, incapacitating headaches
- Other common causes: Hunger, exertion, sunlight
- Serious causes: Meningitis or encephalitis
If not, see these topics
|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
- Difficult to awaken or passed out
- Confused thinking/talking or slurred speech
- Blurred or double vision
- Weakness of arm or leg or unsteady walking
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Stiff neck (can't touch chin to chest)
- Severe headache
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Sinus pain (not just congestion)
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
- You have other questions or concerns
- Headache without other symptoms present over 24 hours
- Sore throat present over 48 hours
- Any headache present over 3 days
- Headaches are a recurrent chronic problem
|Parent Care at Home If|
- Mild headache and you don't think your child needs to be seen
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR HEADACHES
Treatment for Mild Headache
Treatment for Migraine Headache
- Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief (see Dosage table). Headaches due to fever are also helped by fever reduction.
- Food: Give fruit juice or food if your child is hungry or hasn't eaten in more than 4 hours (Reason: Skipping a meal can cause a headache in many children).
- Rest: Lie down in a quiet place and relax until feeling better.
- Local Cold: Apply a cold wet washcloth or cold pack to the forehead for 20 minutes.
- Stretching: Stretch and massage any tight neck muscles.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Headache becomes severe
- Vomiting occurs
- Isolated headache lasts over 24 hours
- Headache lasts over 3 days
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
- Reassurance: This headache is similar to previous migraine headaches that your child has experienced.
- Migraine Medication:
- If your child's doctor has prescribed a specific medication for migraine, give it as directed as soon as the migraine starts.
- If not, ibuprofen is the best over-the-counter drug for migraine. Give ibuprofen now and repeat in 6 hours if needed (See Dosage Table).
- Sleep: Have your child lie down in a dark, quiet place and try to fall asleep. People with migraine often awaken from sleep with their migraine gone.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Headache becomes much worse than usual
- Headache lasts longer than usual
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 1/19/2009
Last Revised: 6/18/2008
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Online
Copyright 1994-2009 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.