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Headaches

Headaches can be a problem in some children in the rather turbulent, teenage years. While there can be definite physical causes for a headache, this symptom is more often a sign of emotional strain. But before deciding that the headache is due to an emotional cause, all possibilities of physical illness must be eliminated.

A headache can be a symptom of an acute illness, such as one of the childhood infectious fevers or the common cold. A headache can also persist following a cold, if the sinuses have been infected. But, if this is the cause of the problem there will be other signs and symptoms - such as a blocked nose or tenderness over the sinuses.

A headache that becomes worse, or is associated with vomiting, during the course of the infective illness must always receive prompt medical attention. It is possible that the infection could have spread to the outer coverings of the brain. This is unusual, but never hesitate to call your doctor if you are concerned about a worsening headache.

Eye-strain is frequently blamed for headaches. But this is an uncommon cause of this symptom. The child is far more likely to complain of being unable to see the blackboard clearly.

Once all the possible physical causes have been eliminated - and treated if they are present - the next step is to decide how to best help your child if he is suffering from emotionally caused headaches. Be in no doubt at all that his pain is very real, even though there is no obvious physical cause. Parents and doctors should explore together any possible cause of undue stress in the child's life that could be the precipitating factor. Many children find growing-up difficult, especially in today's world, when much emphasis is put on academic prowess, and difficulties in finding a job. So, while the situation possibly cannot be changed, the child can be helped to come to terms with his problems or to try a different course of action.

Some children undoubtedly suffer from migraine. But this can be diagnosed wrongly when, in fact, stress is the true cause of the symptoms. Classically, migraine is a severe one-sided headache associated with nausea or vomiting, specific visual symptoms and giddiness. Symptoms vary from person to person but, before a diagnosis is made, one or more of the classic symptoms should be present. Migraine often runs in families. Also, children who have had recurrent tummy-pains in childhood may progress to migrainous headaches in their early teens. Help can be given to migraine sufferers. Your doctor will advise you, if your child is definitely suffering from this unpleasant condition.

Headaches affect all of us at one time or another and nine times out of ten the cause is a simple one, easily cured by aspirin. But occasionally, the underlying cause is more serious. It is wise, therefore, to seek medical advice if headaches occur frequently in a young person.

     
     

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