My child has a headache – first aid guide
What are the symptoms and signs of a headache?
Babies and toddlers may not be able to tell you that they have a headache. Some other symptoms and signs that may accompany a headache are:
- Cold symptoms
- Sensitivity to light
What are the causes of a headache?
There are many causes of headaches in babies and children. Some causes are serious, but these tend to be rare.
- Fatigue, stress
- As part of “the common cold” or other viral infections
- Sinus infection
- Head injury
- Ear infection
- Tooth infection or teeth grinding
- Tumor (rarely)
When can I treat a headache at home?
Mild headaches that are not recurrent and that are short-lived may be treated at home. If your child, however, is ill with other symptoms or has a persistent/chronic headache, you should seek professional medical attention.
When should I seek medical attention?
If your child displays any of the following red flags (warning signs)
- Excessive irritability or sleepiness
- Stiff neck
- A headache following a head injury
- A headache that lasts more than several hours or that is progressively worsening
- A history of recurrent headaches
- A family history of migraine headaches
- A headache that wakes your child at night
- A change in vision, difficulty moving arms or legs, loss of balance or confusion
- If you are concerned for any other reason
First aid measures
- Ensure that your child is well hydrated
- Place cool compresses on the forehead and neck
- A quiet, darkened room may help
- Medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help symptoms. Talk to a healthcare professional about the correct dose for your child. Never give a child Aspirin
- For migraine headaches, discuss avoiding certain triggers such as certain foods with your doctor
- Stress reduction, emotional support and regular exercise may be helpful for certain types of headaches