Easing Headaches and Migraines in Kids

Headaches are an unwelcome symptom that many of us experience, and kids are no exception. Not only can they be triggered by different causes, there are also many types of headaches: tension, cluster, sinus, and migraine. It's important to determine the type of headache you or your child may be experiencing, because therapies will differ depending on the cause.

How to identify the different types of headaches

In order to differentiate between the types, take note of the pain your child is experiencing:

  • the specific location
  • description of pain (sharp, dull, achy, electric, pressing) 
  • when it began
  • how long does it last
  • what makes it better or worse

Some children may not be able to articulate all these answers and instead will simply point to where the headache is located and may require parental coaching to describe the type of pain.

Some of the most common causes of headaches include: allergies, environmental triggers, fever, high blood pressure, illness and infections, injuries and trauma, low blood sugar, side effects of medications, and stress. They may also experience associated symptoms such as aggravation by smell, light, and sounds, disturbances in vision and nausea and vomiting (which are all typically associated with migraines).

Tension headaches typically feel like there is a band around the head and is described as throbbing pain. These headaches can occur throughout the day (around school time), and remit around bedtime. In contrast, migraines may occur for a few days, be associated with key symptoms, and are not relieved by sleep.

Treating headaches in kids

Conventional treatment involves the use of pain relievers such as ibruprofen and acetaminophen. These treatments should be used judiciously and under the supervision of a doctor, and certain illnesses need to be ruled out prior to usage.

Interested in more natural headache relief options? We got 'em!

Natural treatments for headaches include:

Eliminating allergens

Whether they are food or environmental allergens, removing any potential offenders from your child’s daily routine can be beneficial. Food allergens may include dairy, gluten, and additives in processed foods. Chocolate and MSGs are known offenders.

Protein 

Foods high in sugar cause blood sugar levels to spike then crash, leading to increased feelings of hunger. Limit sugary foods, and be sure to incorporate protein, including plant-based protein, at every meal and snack as it can stabilize blood sugar.

Nutrient support

Calcium and magnesium help blood vessels relax, and can relieve symptoms of migraines. Fish oil are natural anti-inflammatories, and can help decrease inflammation throughout the body.

Botanicals 

Chamomile will act as a relaxant to the nervous system, while feverfew, ginger, and peppermint behave as anti-inflammatories. These herbs can be consumed as teas, but should be done under the supervision of a herbalist or naturopathic doctor. You can also consider adding the teas of these herbs into your child's bath. 

Homeopathics 

This gentle therapy works based on the unique symptoms associated with a headache, and should be dispensed by a homeopath or naturopathic doctor.

Acupressure

Applying pressure to Li 4, a point on the large intestine meridian that is part of the four gates, will help relieve pain. A doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine or naturopathic doctor can teach you this easy technique.

Relaxation

If your child is experiencing a headache, have them lie down in a dark and quiet room. Moreover, your child may need to talk about any fears or anxieties that he or she may be experiencing.

If your child is experiencing frequent and chronic headaches that are progressing in severity or frequency, be sure to visit a doctor to determine the cause of the headache. Headaches that are associated with high fever, stiff neck, confusion, disorientation, and vomiting may indicate meningitis or encephalitis and require a visit to the emergency room.