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
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.