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Headaches are a pain, literally! For most adults, they’re a common annoyance. However, a child’s headache somehow sends parents’ minds straight to the worst case scenario. Is this pedi­atric pain an emergency situation? Fortunately, kids usually get headaches for the same regular reasons adults do, and treating and avoiding them is generally straightforward.

Typical Triggers

Like grownups, kids can develop headaches due to lifestyle, diet, and stress. If your child is hurting, these are some common contributors to head pain:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Irregular eating habits
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of exercise
  • Eye strain and hunching from device use
  • Caffeine
  • Hormone changes (puberty)
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Illnesses

Easing the Ache

There are lots of ways to try soothing a child’s headache, with or without medicine. Resting in a cool, dark room, taking deep breaths, drinking water or having a snack, or taking a bath or shower can bring some relief. OTC pain relievers, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are also helpful in moderation; aspirin is not safe for children. Before using any medications or vitamins, speak with your pediatrician or pharmacist.

Pain Prevention

Not all headaches are avoidable, but you can lessen the chances of nagging noggins by making sure your kids get enough sleep, stay hydrated and eat nutritious food, and avoid overuse of electronics. If stress is the culprit, practicing calming techniques, like breathing and grounding exercises, can help take the edge off anxiety.

Professional Peek

When should parents skip the home remedies and seek medical attention? Call your pediatri­cian if your child is experiencing weakness and numbness in limbs, frequent headaches, vision loss, vomiting, seizures, or a headache after a head injury involving loss of consciousness.