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Headaches In Children: Signs, Symptoms And Remedies

  • Headaches aren’t confined to adults—children can get them too. But because kids may experience headaches differently to adults, they can go unnoticed.  
  • While a child’s headache can impact their day, in most cases they are not due to any serious underlying problem and they can often recover quickly. However, if you are concerned about your child’s headache for any reason, see your doctor.
  • There are some simple measures you can take to help prevent your child from developing a headache, or to ease their symptoms if they are experiencing one. 
What to do:
  • Have the child lie down quietly and relax in a darkened room

  • Apply a cool, moistened towel or cloth to the forehead  

  • Try massaging or stretching their head and neck muscles if they are tight or tender  

  • Give paracetamol or ibuprofen. Try giving Nurofen for Children – it contains ibuprofen as the active ingredient to help relieve the pain associated with headache 

What to avoid:
  • Skipping meals  

  • Dehydration – encourage drinking water throughout the day  

  • Irregular bedtimes and inadequate sleep  

  • Food or drinks that may trigger headaches in your child – this can include citrus fruits, monosodium glutamate (MSG), caffeinated drinks, or chocolate  

Possible causes

  • Being stressed
  • Lack of sleep
  • Skipping meals
  • Viral infections, such as colds, flu, sinusitis, or ear infections
  • Eye problems, such as straining to read

Why Ibuprofen can help

Ibuprofen temporarily relieves pain, fever and has anti-inflammatory properties. It can help relieve the acute pain associated with headaches.

Why Nurofen for Children can help

Nurofen for Children oral suspension contains ibuprofen for effective pain relief. It comes in strawberry and orange flavours and is colour free and sugar free.

For children over 7 years old, try Nurofen for Children Soft Chewable Capsules. The easy-to-chew capsule does not need water, offering a convenient and easy way for older children to relieve their headache.

When to see a medical professional

See your doctor if your child’s headaches:

  • are very sudden and severe
  • are getting worse
  • are more frequent than once per week
  • are recurrent in the same location
  • wake your child from sleep or are worse in the morning
  • are associated with vision changes, vomiting, or high fevers
  • disrupt their school, home, or social life
  • may be caused by stress and you require further help to manage them

*The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne. Clinical practice guidelines: headache. Available here.

Children’s headaches aren’t usually serious, but it is a good idea to see your doctor if your child has a headache and is less than 5 years old.* You should always seek medical advice if you are at all concerned for any reason.

See your doctor if your child’s headaches are accompanied by:

  • Drowsiness, confusion or weakness in their arms or legs
  • Difficulty waking up or bright lights hurt their eyes
  • A seizure
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of vision or trouble seeing
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Abnormal walking
  • A change in behaviour or loss of skills

You should also see a doctor if your child’s headaches:

  • Are very sudden and severe
  • Are getting worse or more frequent, or are constant
  • Happen in the morning, with or without vomiting
  • Don’t get better with pain relievers
  • Wake them from their sleep

*Starship Child Health. Clinical guidelines: headaches in childhood. Available here.

This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. Do not use if you have a stomach ulcer. Do not give to babies under 3 months of age. Seek medical advice for children under 12 months of age. Reckitt Benckiser, Auckland. TAPS-NA12948. RB-M-40410.