CHKD doctors: Don't ignore your kid's headaches

Dr. Ryan Williams, a pediatric neurologist, from CHKD talks about taking kids headaches seriously.

(WVEC) -- Migraines have a considerable effect on a child's development, often leading to missed school days, educational delays, and decreased socialization, according to doctors at the Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughters. 

Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Ryan Williams says parents should never ignore a child's complaint about headaches. 

The most common head pains are migraine and tension headaches. The pain can be throbbing pain in the forehead area or generalized pressure like pain.

Tiredness, stress, pressure at home or school, or conflict with parents or friends can trigger migraine and tension headaches. They may keep coming until the underlying issue is resolved.

Dr. Williams says parents shouldn't overuse medicine because it can worsen the headaches sometimes.

To ease the pain:

  • Apply an ice pack
  • Have your child practice slow deep breathing
  • Have your child take a nap or rest in a dark room

Migraines can cause throbbing pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Over-the-counter ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen can ease pain.

Studies have shown that 8 to 23 percent of children between 11 and 15 years old have experienced a migraine headache.

Children as young as 3 have been reported with headaches that meet the migraine criteria. The percentage rises with age, with boys having more headaches pre-puberty, and girls having the higher incidence during and after puberty.

A headache could mean something as simple as a child’s life is out of balance. For children with frequent attacks some lifestyle changes may be necessary.

Dr. WIlliams says parents should be a detective and search for triggers such as poor diet (missing breakfast and/or lunch), not sleeping enough, not exercising, stress, and eating certain foods such as: cheese, chocolates, nuts, caffeine, MSG, pickles.

Also taking over the counter meds more than 3 times a week on a weekly basis can cause medication overuse headaches, also known as rebound headaches.

Make sure your child:

  • Gets enough sleep by keeping a regular sleep schedule, not staying up late or becoming over tired.
  • Drinks plenty of fluids so as not to become dehydrated
  • Have some downtime from a hectic schedule
  • Eats three balanced meals a day.
  • Call your healthcare provider promptly if your child’s headache is accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, vomiting, awaking her/him up from sleep or problems with vision, weakness in one arm or leg, balance or coordination. 

Dr. Williams also says parents should be sure to tell your health care provider about suspected migraines. Some kids may need preventive prescription medication.

 

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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