A number of factors can cause your child to develop headache. Factors include:
Jun. 26, 2013
- Illness and infection. Common illnesses such as colds, flu, and ear and sinus infections are some of the most frequent causes of headache in children. More-serious infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis, also can cause headache, but are usually accompanied by other signs and symptoms, such as fever and neck stiffness.
- Head trauma. Bumps and bruises can cause headaches. Although most head injuries are minor, seek prompt medical attention if your child falls hard on his or her head or gets hit hard in the head. Also, contact a doctor if your child's head pain steadily worsens after a head injury.
- Emotional factors. Stress and anxiety — perhaps triggered by problems with peers, teachers or parents — can play a role in children's headaches. Children with depression may complain of headaches, particularly if they have trouble recognizing feelings of sadness and loneliness.
- Genetic predisposition. Headaches, particularly migraines, tend to run in families.
- Certain foods and beverages. Nitrates — a food preservative found in cured meats, such as bacon, bologna and hot dogs — can trigger headaches, as can the food additive MSG. Also, too much caffeine — contained in soda, chocolates, coffees and teas — can cause headaches.
- Problems in the brain. Rarely, a brain tumor or abscess or bleeding in the brain can press on areas of the brain, causing a chronic, worsening headache. Typically in these cases, however, there are other symptoms, such as visual problems, dizziness and lack of coordination.
- Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=40. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Headaches in children. American Headache Society. http://www.achenet.org/resources/headaches_in_children/. Accessed April 15, 2013.
- Arruda MA, et al. Frequent headaches in the preadolescent pediatric population: A population-based study. Neurology. 2010;74:903.
- Robberstad L, et al. An unfavorable lifestyle and recurrent headaches among adolescents: The HUNT Study. Neurology. 2010;75:712.
- Seshia SS. Chronic daily headache in children and adolescents. Current Pain and Headache Reports. 2012;16:60.
- Monteith TS, et al. Tension type headache in adolescence and childhood: Where are we now? Current Pain and Headache Reports. 2010;14:424.
- Arruda MA, et al. Cluster headache in children and adolescents: Ten years of follow-up in three pediatric cases. Cephalalgia. 2011;31:409.
- Treatment of migraine headache in children and adolescents. American Academy of Neurology. www.aan.com/practice/guideline/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.view&guideline=159. Accessed April 16, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.