Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

A to Z Symptom: Headache

What Kinds of Headaches Do Kids Get?

The most common types of headaches in kids and teens are tension headaches and migraines.

Tension headaches cause pain that is often described as:

  • constant pressure around the front and sides of the head, which can feel like a tight band around the head
  • constricting
  • dull
  • aching

Migraines are recurring headaches that cause intense throbbing pain, usually in one area of the head. Some kids get auras. These are neurological symptoms (like blurred vision or seeing spots) that start just before the headache. When a migraine starts, kids can feel nausea or throw up.

What Causes Headaches?

Many different things can bring on a headache, including dehydration, hormone changes (in teens), not getting enough sleep, strong smells, eye strain, stress, some viral infections, lack or food or sleep, or a bump to the head.

Headaches are rarely a sign of something serious.

How Are Headaches Treated?

For both tension headaches and migraines, as soon as symptoms begin, have your child:

  • lie down in a quiet, dark room with a cool cloth on the forehead
  • drink water
  • take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or other medicine(s) as directed by a doctor

Migraines can come back again and again. Your doctor can help you and your child make a plan for them that may include medicines or other treatments. Avoiding triggers (like eye strain or lack of sleep) as much as possible can make them come less often.

What Else Should I Know?

Most headaches can be managed with home care. But call the doctor if your child's headaches keep happening over a short period of time, happen once a month or more, don't go away easily, or are very painful.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

Reviewed by: KidsHealth Medical Experts

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.