Light Snow   27.0F  |  Forecast »
Edit Module

Teen Headaches: Causes, Concerns and Cures

There are a number of factors the cause your headaches – including hormones, stress and lack of sleep. Learn how to identify and treat your teen's headaches.

School, practice, homework, tests and more – is your teen's schedule giving her a headache? Don't reach for pain relievers just yet. Some headaches can be easily remedied while others may actually require medical attention. Read on to learn what kind of headache your teen is experiencing and what to do when the pain strikes.

Identify the type

All headaches aren't created equal. Primary headaches make up the largest group with the most common being tension headaches, according to pediatric neurologist, Dr. Lalitha Sivaswamy at Children's Hospital of Michigan. Tension-type headaches are mild with dull pain around the head, neck or shoulders, and generally don't last long.

Migraine headaches are often more intense and longer lasting. Symptoms of migraines can include throbbing or pounding on one side of the head, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, and light or sound sensitivity – bad enough your teen may just want to lie down. "About one-third of children who have migraine headaches have a family history of them," she says, "and they are more prevalent in women."

Secondary headaches are rare, but any headache accompanied by impaired vision or weakness may signal a more serious underlying health issue and should be treated by a physician.

Pinpoint the cause

Understand the source of a headache, and you can more effectively treat it. Tension headaches are often caused by lack of sleep, excess scheduling and anxiety. Other headache and migraine triggers include skipping meals, dehydration, smoking or drinking, and caffeine withdrawal from missing a daily latte or soda. Too much Internet, video game and TV screen time are also big contributors.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescent hormonal changes, like menstrual cycles, can also bring on migraines. Think of what's happening in your teen's life to try and uncover the cause of her headache.

"Athletic teens are more likely to experience head trauma," Dr. Sivaswamy says. "Since parents aren't always with their kids, they should ask questions to find out if their child had a recent fall or sports injury."

Heal the headache

Got an overscheduled teen? Give them some downtime to relieve stress-induced headaches. Dehydration and hunger triggers can be fixed with dietary changes. Encourage your teen to drink six to eight cups of water daily – not pop or juice – and to avoid skipping meals. Some types of foods, like processed meats, can occasionally cause headaches. Be aware of triggers and cut back.

"I think the most important thing is to have the child lay down, turn off the lights and sleep," says Dr. Sivaswamy. You can also try a dose of Motrin (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen), but doses depend on age and weight, so ask your pediatrician for the correct amount. Be careful, though. Using pain meds on a consistent basis over long periods of time can lead to analgesic overuse and more headaches. Ask the doctor for natural supplements and techniques your teen can try instead.

Seek medical help

"If headaches are in a consistent pattern and your child is not responding to Tylenol or Motrin over a couple of days, then it's better to have them checked out by their pediatrician," says Dr. Sivaswamy.

If your teen complains first thing in the morning, has blurry or double vision, call the doctor. Any type of vision impairment, numbness, tingling or weakness on half of the body should be taken seriously, she says, and parents should consult their child's physician right away to rule out another underlying cause.

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Green Bean Side Dish Ideas

Green Bean Side Dish Ideas

Go green with these yummy sides featuring kids' favorite beans. Check out these recipe ideas including mini green bean casseroles, lemony green beans and more.

Simple Sewing Holiday Tree Craft for Kids

Simple Sewing Holiday Tree Craft for Kids

Give your Christmas tree extra flair with this cute project that you can turn into an ornament or other decor. Teaches kids an easy running stitch, too.

Craft Review: Epson's LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit

Craft Review: Epson's LabelWorks Printable Ribbon Kit

This cool family crafting tool isn't just great for creating ordinary labels. It's also a handy holiday tool for gift wrapping and other creative DIY projects.

Make Cute Penguins with Candy Aisle Crafts Book

Make Cute Penguins with Candy Aisle Crafts Book

This delicious title features super creative, clever and easy crafts that southeast Michigan families can make with a simple trip to the grocery store.

Michigan Mitten Free Printable Greeting Card Craft

Michigan Mitten Free Printable Greeting Card Craft

Want to make the season bright, with a distinct dash of hometown flair? Our template is the perfect starting point for an easy, impressive card kids can make.

Meet Angelina, Metro Parent December 2014 CoverKid – VIDEO

Meet Angelina, Metro Parent December 2014 CoverKid – VIDEO

All bundled up and ready for winter, this 6-year-old Canton kid is ready to lead southeast Michigan to some fun events – and make you laugh out loud!

Elsa's Icy Braid: How to Create a Disney Princess Hairdo

Elsa's Icy Braid: How to Create a Disney Princess Hairdo

The super cool character has a signature hair look. Recreate it with this guide from the book Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa.

Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement