We often think of headaches as something that only adults get. But kids can actually get the same types of headache that grown-ups get.
Headache in kids: Usually, your kid’s headache is nothing to worry about. But there are times when it’s best to show her to a doctor.
Did you know that a massive 90% of school-age kids suffer from headaches? They are more common in kids over the age of 10, and the good news is that they are usually not something to worry about too much.
Many parents worry that their kid’s headache may be a symptom of a more serious medical condition, such as a brain tumour. But medical experts say most headaches in kids and teenagers are not the result of a serious illness.
What causes a kid’s headache?
1. Head injuries
We all know how kids seem to have a predisposition to knock their heads — anywhere and on anything. At times, I have even been tempted to get my two boys to wear helmets. They knock their head that much! But it’s true, accidental bumps and bruises can be a cause of your kid’s headache.
Causes for headache in kids: If you get headaches often, it’s highly likely your child will, too.
2. Genetic predisposition
If you or your partner are prone to migraine, tension and/or sinus headaches, then it’s highly likely your child will experience them, too. Medical experts say this is particularly true of migraine headaches.
Find out about more reasons for your kid’s headache on the next page…
3. Illness and infection
Most headaches in children are caused by common childhood illnesses such as the common cold, allergic rhinitis and ear, throat and sinus infections.
Headaches are part-and-parcel of many common childhood illnesses and infections.
Bright lights, strong smells, weather changes and loud noises may all contribute to your kid’s headache.
Many kids, especially if they are of school-going age, may get headaches due to anxiety and stress caused by issues with teachers, parents, studies or peers. Such headaches often materialise for many kids as tension headaches.
Tension headaches may be a result of your child stressing over schoolwork or issues with friends or teachers.
6. Foods and food additives
Brain-freeze! That horrible sensation when you eat very cold or icy food like ice cream can be experienced by your child as a headache. The pain is normally felt in the forehead and lasts from several seconds to a few minutes. Preservatives and food additives can also cause your kid’s headache. Additives such as nitrates dilate blood vessels, which may lead to a headache.
7. Rare illnesses
Among the rare illnesses that cause headaches are brain infections such as meningitis and encephalitis, as well as tumours and abscesses. Bleeding inside the brain (hemorrhage) and blood clots are also rare causes of headache.
Try not to reach for those pills when your child has a headache. Instead, try some simple yet effective home remedies.
When adults get a headache, we almost instinctively reach for Panadol, Nurofen or other over-the-counter pharmaceutical drug. We all know that these drugs are readily available for Junior, too.
But medical experts are increasingly cautioning parents against giving their kids over-the-counter remedies for common illnesses such as headaches and colds, as these drugs can cause unnecessary side effects.
Instead of resorting to these drugs for your kid’s headache, try some of these simple and effective home remedies that we present to you on the next page…
Home remedies for your kid’s headache
1. Essential oils
Essential oils are particularly useful if your child has a tension headache. Add two drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil to olive or coconut oil. Rub into your child’s temples and around the head. Pure lavender oil can also be mixed with peppermint oil in olive or coconut oil and rubbed gently on your child’s temples. Be careful not to get the mixture in your child’s eyes.
Ask your child to rest in a quiet, dark room and prevent him from using his phone or watching TV during this time. Most headaches will go away with rest and/or sleep.
One of the first things you can try when your child has a headache is to get her to rest or sleep.
3. Cool pack
Place a cold pack or a cold, moist cloth on the part of your child’s head that hurts. If you are using ice, make sure you place a thin cloth between the ice and your child’s skin.
4. Plenty of liquids
Some headaches are caused by dehydration. So give your child plenty of liquids to try and ease his headache. Water is the best, but juice or milk will work, too.
Sometimes, your kid’s headache (usually migraine) can be caused by toxin build-up in the digestive track, according to experts. Taking a good quality probiotic can get rid of toxins and prevent migraine formation. Yoghurt or a drink such as Yakult are good sources of probiotics for kids.
6. Ginger, cinnamon or lemon
Easily available in every Singaporean kitchen, these wonderful items will help ease your kid’s headache.
Ginger, lemon and cinnamon are great for many common illnesses, including headaches.
Ginger: If your child is old enough to inhale steam under your guidance, then add some freshy grated ginger or ginger powder to the water. Get her to inhale the goodness and watch her headache disappear.
Cinnamon: Make a paste out of half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder and water and apply it on your child’s forehead.
Lemon: Grind lemon rind, make a thick paste out of it and apply on your child’s forehead.
Consult a doctor for your kid’s headache if…
- Your child has a very sudden or painful headache, different from any he has experienced before.
- Your child’s headache lasts longer than 1 or 2 days.
- The headache occurs with a change in personality.
- Your very young child shows signs of headache after a fall or blow to the head (head straight to Emergency in this case).
- The headache occurs with sudden weakness, numbness, trouble moving parts of the body, vision problems, slurred speech, confusion or behavior changes.
- Your child has nausea and/or vomiting along with the headache.
Sometimes, it’s crucial that you consult a doctor for your kid’s headache.
TIP:Keep a headache diary for your child. A headache diary can help you find a link between your child’s headaches and the things that trigger them.
Help your child write down when each headache starts, how long it lasts, where it hurts and what the pain is like (throbbing, aching, stabbing or dull). You can either use a regular note pad for this, or an app such as Migraine Buddy – which is currently available from Google Play. The iOS version will be available in early 2015.
Parents, if you notice your child’s headaches are caused by anxiety related to school work, teachers or peers, give plenty of comfort and support. Sometimes, knowing you are on their side and supporting them will help ease the pain of a tension headache.
How do you help ease your kid’s headache? Share your home remedies with us by leaving a comment.