Section: Highlights

My 10-year-old Daughter gets a headache almost every week. Is that normal?

02/19/2015
My 10-year-old Daughter gets a headache almost every week. Is that normal?

Headaches are common among children and in most cases the cause is simple. Migraine and tension headaches are by far the most frequent culprits, and these are often triggered or worsened by factors you can help control:

Not Enough Sleep: One of the best ways to prevent headaches, while also improving her health and academic success, is to make sure she is getting enough sleep. If she is not getting a minimum of nine hours of sleep — and some kids need 10 or 11 — make it a priority. If she is spending enough time in bed, but is still tired all the time, a sleep disorder could be the reason. From insomnia to sleep apnea, undiagnosed sleep disorders among children are an epidemic.

Dehydration: Not drinking enough is a common trigger (dehydration makes the brain tissue shrink, causing pain), but so is drinking the wrong things; too much sugar (causing unhealthy changes in blood sugar levels) and too much caffeine are also frequent causes.

Stress: A child who is worried about school or relationships with friends, will often complain of headaches. Kids’ schedules need to include regular exercise (a great stressreliever that releases mood-boosting endorphins) and family dinners or game nights, giving kids a chance to talk about what’s on their mind.

Look at when and where her headaches are happening. If she wakes up with a headache, that points to a sleep issue, such as sleep apnea or grinding her teeth at night. If her headaches are more common after reading a book or doing homework, then it may be time to see an optometrist. But if she is also frequently blowing her nose, than allergies or a sinus infection may be the culprit.

The cause of most headaches can be found with a little detective work, starting with a “headache journal.” Jot down every time she gets a headache, including what she was doing, what she recently ate, and a description of the pain, including character, location, and severity. This information will be essential in helping your doctor look for patterns and find solutions.

One mistake to avoid: giving frequent doses of over-the-counter pain relievers. Research shows that taking these medications more than 3 day

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