Treatment for Mild Headache
Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief (see Dosage table). Headaches due to fever are also helped by fever reduction.
Food: Give fruit juice or food if your child is hungry or hasn't eaten in more than 4 hours (Reason: Skipping a meal can cause a headache in many children).
Rest: Lie down in a quiet place and relax until feeling better.
Local Cold: Apply a cold wet washcloth or cold pack to the forehead for 20 minutes.
Stretching: Stretch and massage any tight neck muscles.
Call Your Doctor If:
- Headaches are very common with viral illness, especially with colds. They usually resolve in 2 or 3 days.
- Unexplained headaches can occur in children, just as they do in adults. They usually pass in a few hours or last up to a day.
- Most headaches (including muscle tension headaches) are helped by the following measures.
Extra Advice: Muscle Tension Headache Prevention:
- Headache becomes severe
- Vomiting occurs
- Isolated headache lasts over 24 hours
- Headache lasts over 3 days
- Your child becomes worse
- If something is bothering your child, help him talk about it and get it off his mind.
- Teach your child to take breaks from activities that require sustained concentration. Encourage your child to do relaxation exercises during the breaks.
- Teach your child the importance of getting adequate sleep.
- If over-achievement causes headaches, help your child find more balance.
- Caution: Your child should have a complete medical checkup before you conclude that recurrent headaches are due to worrying too much or stress.
Treatment for Migraine Headache
- Reassurance: This headache is similar to previous migraine headaches that your child has experienced.
- Migraine Medication:
Sleep: Have your child lie down in a dark, quiet place and try to fall asleep. People with migraine often awaken from sleep with their migraine gone.
Prevention of Migraine Attacks:
- If your child's doctor has prescribed a specific medication for migraine, give it as directed as soon as the migraine starts.
- If not, ibuprofen is the best over-the-counter drug for migraine. Give ibuprofen now and repeat in 6 hours if needed (See Dosage Table).
Call Your Doctor If:
- Stay well hydrated.
- Don't skip meals.
- Get adequate sleep each night.
- Headache becomes much worse than usual
- Headache lasts longer than usual
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
To find a pediatrician, click here.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 6/1/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011 3:04:58 PM
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.