Headache Pediatric Care Plan

By David Shafran, MD
Medically reviewed
December 30, 2020

What Causes Headaches?

Headaches are rarely a sign of something serious and are one of the most common complaints in children. Headaches can occur either on their own, also known as primary headaches, or as result of something else, secondary headaches.

Common types of primary headaches include:

  • Tension headaches: pain is mild to moderate, all over, an usually non-throbbing.
  • Cluster headaches: usually one side, intense, around the eye and can be associated with eye redness, tearing, and runny nose.
  • Migraines: throbbing, located in one spot, worsened by activity and can be associated with nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity.

Common causes of secondary headaches include:

  • Fever and infections
  • Medicines
  • Head Injury
  • Benign intracranial hypertension- commonly known as pseudotumor cerebri, more common in overweight, female adolescents

Rare causes of secondary headaches include:

How to Treat a Headache

  • Eat healthy and don’t skip meals
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Tylenol or ibuprofen
  • Alternative/complementary therapies such as massage or acupuncture
  • Keep track of headache pattern in a headache diary to track frequency and identify potential triggers

Check in with K if…

  • You have general questions about your child’s condition
  • You want general followup for your child
  • You have questions about supportive care
  • Your child’s symptoms don’t go away after treatment but are not alarming

See a doctor in person if…

Worrisome headache symptoms include:

  • Sudden and severe pain
  • Awakens child from sleep
  • Associated with fever and neck pain
  • Located in the back of the head or persistently in one spot
  • Progressively worse over time
  • Worse when lying down, coughing, defecating or when active
  • No response to medications
  • Associated with vision changes or weakness of any part of the body
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

David Shafran, MD

Dr. Shafran is a board-certified pediatrics physician. He joins K Health from the Cleveland Clinic, where he led a pediatrics practice and completed a fellowship in transplant ethics. He has completed multiple fellowships, including one in pediatric nephrology at Rainbow, Babies & Children's University Hospitals. He received his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv and completed his medical residency at the Jacobi Medical Center.