Headache in children could be a cause for concern
Does your child say, “Mommy I don’t want to go to school today, my head hurts?”
Does your child get crankier by the end of the day?
Does your child find it difficult to sleep at night?
If the answer is YES to the above questions, then watch out! Your child could be dealing with a “HEADACHE”.
Headache is a very common disorder in children and is also one of the reasons for frequent absenteeism from school. At times, it is difficult to understand the seriousness of this condition. Very often a headache can just pass off with some rest. Sometimes, though, headaches are a problem and a cause for parental anxiety, especially if it causes a child to wake up from sleep in the middle of the night. Headache can lead to impairment of the psychosocial functioning of the child as well as his family members and therefore it is very important to address this at the right time.
Possible causes for a headache include:
- Vision problems – Your child could be having difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly due to uncorrected spectacle power. This could cause your child to squint his/her eyes in order to see better or hold objects very close to the eyes. Your child could also have binocular vision anomalies.
- Eye strain – Due to excessive use of digital screens on devices such as computers, tablets, i- pads, mobile phones, and video games.
- Illness – Such as a fever, sore throat, or frequent colds.
- Stress – Related to exam pressure.
- Poor habits – Inadequate sleep, poor intake of fluids or nutrition.
- Neurological – Such as an underlying serious neurological problem associated with severe headache, vomiting, or loss of vision. This could warrant immediate medical attention.
- Family history – A child is more likely to suffer from headaches if a parent gets them as well.
Headaches which are accompanied by certain other symptoms can be a sign of a more serious problem and require a little more investigation. Consult a doctor right away if your child experiences any of these symptoms along with a headache:
- Loss of vision
- Muscle weakness
- Waking up in the morning or the middle of the night from a headache
As a parent, how can you deal with your child’s headache?
- Don’t ignore your child’s complaints of a headache
- A detailed eye evaluation by a trained pediatric ophthalmologist could help to rule out any refractive error or binocular vision anomalies. Spectacles or vision therapy may be recommended to treat any vision problems.
- Limit the usage of screen devices and ensure your child follows the 20-20 20 rule (Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away, for 20 seconds)
- Healthy habits – Encourage your child to get good sleep, eat healthy meals, drink adequate water, and stay active physically.
- Lifestyle modifications -Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga and meditation could help to release the tension in the neck and eye muscles.
- Behavioural therapy – With a counselor to manage stress and cope with life events.
- Consult a pediatrician or a neurologist – If the headache gets worse and becomes frequent. They may recommend medication or other investigations to rule out any problems in the brain.