Headache sufferers include kidsWhat is a parent to think when a child says he has a headache. Of course the parent will ask, “Where does it hurt?” It would be risky to let it slide, thinking “Children don’t suffer from headaches.”
In fact, headaches are common among children, according to Jeong Sa-joon, a professor at Kyung Hee University Medical school. “Ten percent of 7-year olds suffer from repetitive headaches, while for 12-year olds it is 20 percent and for 15-year olds, it is 30 percent.” Following are some common causes of headaches in children, and preventive measures.
Reasons for children’s headaches are diverse
The first factor one should consider about headaches is what part of the head hurts. One should also consider what time of day the headache is most serious, whether it wakens the child at night, and note any side effects such as fever, vomiting or sight impairment. Also, take heed of whether heavy coughing and sneezing, both of which can increase pressure upon the brain, affects headache intensity.
“A child has a difficult time accurately expressing what’s wrong with him or her,” says Dr. Jeong, adding that nasal diseases such as sinusitis or eye diseases such as squinting or improper focusing ability can be causes of headaches.
More often than in adults, children’s headaches may stem from serious problems like meningitis, brain deformities or tumors, or hydrocephalus, a situation when the cerebral ventricle fills with water. These illnesses all result from some change in the nature of the brain.
A child’s headache occurring repeatedly in the same part of the head may be cause for concern, and it is critical to visit a pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis. Headaches that are not associated with a serious illness may be caused by stress or tension, and are called migraines.
Listen carefully to the child
Treatment differs according to cause and patient. Four percent of elementary schoolers experience migraines, while for teens the number is 5.3 percent. If symptoms occur, patients should be given aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen to eliminate pain. If a migraine becomes persistent, it is advisable to visit a pediatrician for suggestions on stronger medication.
Treatment for organic headaches differ according to the cause of the illness, be it tumor, hydrocephalus, encephalitis or meningitis. Decreasing brain pressure, via injection, treats meningitis, though tumors must be removed through surgery.
A tension-related headache can be treated through therapy, but it is also vital to understand the child’s physical and mental circumstances. Professor Hong Seong-do of Samsung Medical Center notes, “It is very important to listen to the child when he or she is complaining about constant headaches.”
The pain arrives in 3 different forms
― The younger the child, the more likely pain is in the forehead, but as one ages, the pain moves to the sides of head.
― Symptoms include blurry vision or sudden flashes
2. Tension headache
― In front or back of head
― Mild pain for an extended period
― Side effects include muscle pain and cramps
3. Organic headaches
― Usually in the mornings
― Headache becomes more painful and persists a long time
― Causes are brain tumor, meningitis, hydrocephalus or encephalitis
― Coughing or sneezing worsens the pain
by Hwang Se-hee