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Part 4: Keeping Your Child Healthy  >  The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses  >  Headache

HEADACHE

A headache can be serious if:

  • The child has persistent headache without any obvious cause or following a head injury.
  • The headache is associated with persistent vomiting, squinting, loss of balance or disturbed consciousness.
  • The headache is followed by convulsions or by loss of consciousness.
  • The headache is severe at onset.
  • The child has headaches whose character and frequency have changed.


SYMPTOMS: While the older child will be able to tell you he has a headache, smaller ones may be fretful or bang their heads persistently. However, occasional banging of the head in a toddler is often behaviour-related.


Common Causes
Common Infections

Viral or bacterial infections can cause a headache. Usually, the child also has fever and body ache. Paracetamol relieves this type of headache for a couple of hours till the child recovers from the infection. The child is otherwise alert. He may be an obvious case of a viral cold with running nose or a bacterial infection like acute tonsillitis.


Psychogenic Factors And Fatigue 
School going children under undue stress, sleep deprivation and emotional disturbances can have frequent headaches.


Eyestrain 
A child complaining of headache towards the end of the day may need his eyes to be checked.


Sinus Infection

In persistent infection of the sinuses (hollows present in our bones nearer the nose), the headache is typically noticed on waking up.


Migraine

Repetitive stereotype headaches are usually not due to serious causes like a brain tumour. One such example of a relatively benign condition is migraine.

If there is a family history of migraine, this condition should especially be considered. While adults often have a headache that affects one half of the head, children may complain of a generalised headache in migraine. A few precipitating factors are stress, bright sunlight, cheese, chocolates, chilled food, cold drinks, ice cream and nuts. The attacks of headache are often associated with nausea or vomiting. The child is perfectly all right between attacks.

Migraine aura (which precedes an attack of migraine) without headache has also been found in some children. In this condition, the child has distortion of visual image, frequently consisting of things looking smaller than they are (micropsia), or seeing bright lights, or the appearance of distortion of body image (the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome). A positive personal history or family history of classical migraine in such cases may clinch the diagnosis. 


Head Injury
A persistent headache following a history of head injury should not be ignored. Most vomiting after mild head injury is said to be related to migraine, but a persistent headache or vomiting could be related directly to the head injury.


Meningitis
Fever, a fixed gaze, or disturbed consciousness should raise the possibility of a diagnosis of meningitis.

A small infant may have a bulging anterior fontanelle (the soft spot on the head). Neck stiffness is present in most cases of meningitis.


Brain Tumour

A persistent headache, lasting day and night, could be due to a brain tumour. Associated features like persistent vomiting, squint, loss of balance, convulsions and disturbed consciousness add to the suspicion of a brain tumour or any other space-occupying lesion in the brain.

Headaches due to migraine may be preceded by blurring of vision followed by vomiting. This should not be construed as suggestive of a brain tumour. 


High Blood Pressure

This is a rare cause of headache.

TREATMENT: In routine cases, take the child in your lap and press his head gently. If he does not object, apply a little balm on his temples. Paracetamol may also be given. Ibuprofen has been found to be more effective than paracetamol in headaches due to migraine.

Attend to any emotional factors. Make sure he has food at regular intervals, Hunger can add to the problem. Check his hours of sleep. Exercise has been found to help fight migraine by improving blood flow to the brain, by boosting blood levels of brain chemicals that suppress pain, and by conferring a general feeling of relaxation and well-being. However, sudden and vigorous exercise should be avoided. It may actually trigger or aggravate an attack.

For temporary headaches associated with fever, paracetamol and treatment of the infection with suitable drugs, if required, should be enough.

For a persistent complaint, specially associated with other worrying symptoms mentioned earlier, take your child to the doctor soon so that the proper diagnosis can be made at an early stage.




16 June, 2014

 
Part 4
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses

Abdominal Pain
Abrasions or Scratches
Acute Glomerulonephritis
Acute Nephritis
Acute Watery Diarrhoea
Addictions
Adenoids
AIDS
Allergies
Anaemia
Anorexia (Poor Appetite)
Asthma
ADHD
Autism
Backache
Bed-Wetting (Enuresis)
Birth Deformities
Bites and Stings
Bleeding
Bone, Joint and Muscle Injuries
Bowlegs and Knock-Knees
Breathlessness
Bronchiolitis
Burns
Calcium Deficiency
Cancer
Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Chickenpox
Choking
Circumcision
Cleft Lip and Palate
Common Cold
Congenital Heart Disease
Constipation
Convulsions or Fits or Seizures
Cough
Croup
Crying
Cuts
Dengue Fever
Diabetes Mellitus
Diarrhoea, Dysentery ...
Diphtheria
Down's Syndrome
Earache, Ear Infections ...
Electric Shock
Encephalitis
Eye Problems
Fears
Foot Problems
German Measles (Rubella)
Glands in the Neck ...
Headache
Head Injury
Hepatitis
Hydrocephalus
Hypertension
Hypospadias
Influenza (Flu)
Jaundice
Joint Disorders
Kala-Azar
Leptospirosis
Limp and Pain in the Legs
Malaria
Malnutrition (Undernutrition)
Measles
Meningitis
Meningomyelocele
Menstrual Problems
Mental Retardation (MR)
Mouth To Mouth Breathing
Mumps
Nephrotic Syndrome
Nose-Related Problems
Obesity
Pneumonia
Poisoning
Poliomyelitis
Premature Baby
Prolapse of the Rectum
Rabies
Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rickets
Short Child
Skin Conditions
Sleep and Sleep Problems
Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)
Splinters
Stammering
Stridor (Noisy Breathing)
Teething and Care of Teeth
Tetanus (Lock Jaw)
Thrush
Thumb-Sucking
Tics
Torticollis
Tracheoesophageal Fistula
Tropical Eosinophilia
Tuberculosis (TB)
Typhoid
Umbilical Problems
Undescended Testis
Urinary Infection
Vaginal Discharge
Vomiting
Wheezing
Whooping Cough (Pertusis)



Part 4
Keeping Your Child Healthy
Choosing A Paediatrician
Proper Use of Medicines
Home Remedies
A First Aid Kit
The A-Z of Childhood Illnesses
Psychological Concerns
Managing A Hospital Stay
Emergencies
Prayer And Your Child's Health
The Role of Nature Cure
Homoeopathy
Ayurveda and Child Care
Congenital Heart Disease FAQ
 
Guide to Child Care
Home
Introduction
1 Pregnancy, Childbirth ...
2 The Growing Years
3 Feeding Infants, ...
4 Keeping Your Child Healthy
5 Keeping Your Child Happy
About Dr. R. K. Anand
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