What causes a headache in children?

There are different types of headaches and reasons as to why they occur. Most headaches in children are not serious but you should always seek medical advice if you are concerned. Some general causes that may trigger a headache include:

  • Cold or flu
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Certain foods
  • Stress
  • Skipping meals

How to relieve a headache in children

If your child has a headache, you can try the following to help make them feel more comfortable:

  • Lie them down in a quiet, dark room to rest
  • Put a cool, moist cloth across their forehead
  • Encourage them to have water and something to eat
  • Massaging or stretching the head and neck muscles if they are tight or tender

Some other natural ways to help children with headaches include relaxation techniques, making sure they are getting enough sleep and encouraging them to exercise regularly. The use of a headache diary can also be useful to keep track of your child’s headaches and identify possible triggers.

Giving your child pain relief medicine can help. Nurofen for Children contains ibuprofen, which is suitable for providing relief of headaches in children. It comes in a liquid formulation for children over 3 months, or as soft chewable capsules for children over 7 years old. Make sure that you give your child the medication at a dose that is suitable for their age and weight according to the instructions on the label.

When to see a doctor

Most headaches in children are not serious. However, if you are at all concerned about your child’s headache, consult your doctor.

See your doctor if your child’s headache:

  • Is a new kind of headache for your child
  • Is reoccurring, or happens more than once a week
  • Is more severe than usual
  • Wakes them from their sleep or starts/is worse in the morning
  • Disrupts your child’s home, school or social life
  • Is not being relieved by pain relievers
  • Concerns you for any reason.

See your doctor urgently if your child’s headache is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Drowsiness or difficulty waking up
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplained fever
  • Weakness in their arms or legs
  • Sensitivity to light or any other vision, hearing or speech problems
  • Problems with walking, balance or coordination
  • Change in behaviour, confusion or memory issues
  • Weight loss
  • Any other symptoms that concern you

If you are worried or unsure what you should do, seek medical advice for support.