HEADACHE IN SCHOOL CHILDREN
Headache is pain in any region of the head. Headaches may occur on one or both sides of the head, be isolated to a certain location, radiate across the head from one point, or have a viselike quality. A headache may appear as a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation or a dull ache.
Headaches are very common in school-aged kids, with about 20 per cent of those aged between five and 17 being prone to headaches. They’re usually not serious but can be quite distressing, and as a parent it can be hard to know what’s causing them and when to worry.
TYPES & CAUSES
The main causes of headaches in kids are:
- Tension headaches are the most common and feel like a tight band around the top of the head causing a dull ache, usually most intense on both sides of the head. They’re caused by pressure or stress, can be either episodic or chronic, and don’t get better with sleep. Many teenagers may have suffered tension headaches through the recent exam period.
- Migraine headaches are duller and throbbing and are usually felt on one side of the head or at the front, but can be felt on both sides. About 15 per cent of migraines start with an “aura” (seeing colored or flashing lights, or wavy lines) or tingling in the face, arm or leg. Some children may stumble or find it hard to talk. Migraines are often associated with feeling sick or vomiting, tummy aches and looking pale, and can last from one hour to a day or two. Sleep usually helps a migraine go away.
- Physical causes or diseases cause less than five per cent of headaches. Headache caused by conditions such as viral or bacterial meningitis, concussion, significant head injury, and brain tumours are all accompanied by a wide range of other symptoms. These are rare and should not be the first thing you think of when your child has a headache.
THE COMMON TRIGGERS FOR MIGRAINE INCLUDE:
- Being overtired, caused by going to bed too late or packing too much into one day.
- Not drinking enough water. Kids need to drink about five glasses of water per day, in addition to any fluids they lose playing sport. This is especially true in summer.
- Skipping meals, especially breakfast.
- Excessive screen time with the constant stimulation of lights, noise and quick movements on the screen.
- Muscle tension caused by stress or anxiety.
- Menstrual periods or the oral contraceptive pill.
- Foods such as chocolate or caffeinated drinks (e.g. cola, energy drinks). Some kids work out that they have specific triggers such as certain meats, processed food, cheeses, nuts, fruits such as avocado or even dairy products. A diary can be very helpful in identifying dietary triggers.
- A strong family history of migraine.
- Sudden loss of balance or falling.
- Numbness or tingling.
- Speech difficulties.
- Mental confusion.
- Personality changes/inappropriate behavior.
- Vision changes (blurry vision, double vision or blind spots).
Constitutional treatment is recommended for recurrent headaches caused by stress, anxiety, or tension. However, if you know or suspect that a headache is a symptom of another condition acute remedies can be prescribed depending on the case.
Some common medicines for headache in children are listed below:
Aconite: Headache comes on suddenly, feels worse in cold or draughty surroundings, person apprehensive, headache feels like a tight band around head or as if brains are being forced out of head.
Apis: Stinging, stabbing or burning headache, rest of body feels bruised and tender, symptoms worse in hot, stuffy surroundings
Belladonna: Throbbing, drumming headache, flushed face, dilated pupils, distinctly worse in hot sun.
Bryonia: Head feels bruised, sharp, stabbing pain made worse by slightest eye movement.
Gelsemium: Head feels full and swollen, face purple and congested-looking, expression dull and heavy, dilated pupils, limbs weak and shaky.
Glonoinum: Violent headache in which every heartbeat sets up an answering thump and throbbing in the head, made worse by stooping or shaking head.
Nux vomica: Child often irritable, prone to dull, dizzy, bruising headaches which are rather like being beaten around the head, worse first thing in the morning but better when
person gets up.
Mag phos: Headache begins in occiput and extends over head of school girls; face red, flushed from mental exertion or hard study.
Natrum muriaticum: Throbbing, blinding headache, warmth and moving around make headache worse, head feels overstuffed and congested, attack preceded by numbness and tingling in lips, nose, and tongue. Anaemic headache in school girls. Chronic headache, semi lateral and congestive from sunrise to sunset. Eyes feel bruised with headache in school children.
Pulsatilla: Headache worse in evening or during a period, aggravated by rich, fatty food, head feels as if it is about to burst, person easily bursts into tears.
Silicea: Pain starts at back of head, then shifts and settles above one eye, aggravated by cold, alleviated by wrapping head up warmly and tightly, person prone to head sweats.