Frequent headaches in children: What are the possible causes?

Headaches have been considered as common childhood ailment and can occur among school-age children. There are various causes of frequent headaches among children. Always bear in mind that these headaches despite excruciating are usually harmless. It is vital for parents to consult a doctor if a child wakes up from sleep with a headache and vomits, if the headache manifests with fever or after an injury or if it appears different, worse or frequent than usual.


A migraine can occur on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This type can last up to 3 days among children. The pain can be quite severe and even require the child to limit activities since exertion can worsen the pain. Always bear in mind that migraines are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting while sounds and lights can intensify the nausea and pain.

Headaches in children

A tension headache causes a sensation of a band that tightens around the head that can last for half an hour up to several days.

Children between 5-10 years old can oftentimes suffer from dizziness, blurred vision, colored spots in front of their eyes or flashing lights within an hour of the onset. Migraines occur once the arteries in the brain constrict and widen, usually due to changes in altitude or weather, certain foods, fatigue, skipping meals, intense physical activity or hormonal fluctuations.

Tension headaches

A tension headache causes a sensation of a band that tightens around the head that can last for half an hour up to several days. An episode can occur repeatedly or episodically.

This type can cause mild to moderate pain that does not usually affect the activity level of the child. Children usually end up with tension headaches after staying in one position for an extended period which strains on the neck, shoulder and back muscles. Among children, this can occur after playing video games and from being seated for extended periods in the same position in school. The stress from school and social situations can also trigger tension headaches.

Children who suffer from frequent episodes must reduce stress by avoiding overcrowded schedules. The parents must also ensure that the child gets regular sleep between 8-10 hours since fatigue can also trigger the headache.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches typically start after 10 years old and quite common among teenage boys. With this type of headache, it occurs in a series that can persist for weeks or even months.

The symptoms include intense pain on one side of the head behind the eye up to a point where one eyelid appears droopy or swollen. Some might even notice that the pupil in one eye appears smaller in size. Runny nose, congestion and swelling of the forehead are also other symptoms.

Disruption with the sleeping pattern, abnormalities with the hypothalamus gland and abnormal level of hormones are known to trigger cluster headaches among children.


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