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What Is Your Child’s Headache Telling You?

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We all get headaches. Some of us deal with intense, persistent and all-too-frequent pain; some soldier through the occasional stress- or dehydration-induced discomfort. Of course, this applies to kids as well. While no parent wants to see their child in pain, the good news is, most headaches are acute and not a cause for concern. “Headaches in children and adolescents are common, and can interfere with school, play and sleep. Though headaches do occasionally indicate a serious medical problem, the vast majority are easily recognized as tension headaches, migraines or other primary headache types,” explains Michael Zimbric, M.D., a neurologist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and an associate clinical professor at University of California San Diego School of Medicine. “They can usually be treated effectively with good health habits (sleep, meals, hydration, exercise and stress management) and/or medications.”

Just in time for National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, Dr. Zimbric filled us in on what different kinds of headaches can mean for kids, some typical points of distinction between a headache and a true migraine, and when it might be time to see a physician. Keep in mind that each individual is different, and if you feel your child needs to see a medical professional for their headaches — even ones that seem “normal” — don’t hesitate to set up an appointment for them.