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A to Z Symptom: Headache

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

More to Know


A headache can be brought on by many different things, like dehydration, hormonal changes, not getting enough sleep, strong smells, eye strain, stress, certain viral infections, or a bump to the head. Very rarely, headaches can be a sign of something serious.

Tension headaches are common in people of all ages. The pain they cause 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 on one area of the head. They can be triggered by many things, such as dehydration, stress, lack of food or sleep, or hormonal changes (in teenage girls). Avoiding triggers as much as possible can make migraines come less often.


Migraines can come back again and again. Be sure to follow up with your doctor as directed to make a plan for controlling them.

For both tension headaches and migraines, as soon as symptoms begin, try to:

  • 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

Keep in Mind

Most headaches can be managed with home care. But contact a doctor if headaches keep happening over a short period of time, occur 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

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