Toddler Headaches

by Shelley Frost
Toddlers might become cranky or rub their heads during a headache.

Toddlers might become cranky or rub their heads during a headache.

Toddler headaches range from mild to severe, with a variety of causes behind the pain. A young child can't always express the presence of a headache or the severity of the pain. Knowledge of toddler headache basics helps you decide how to treat your child's headache and whether or not medical intervention is necessary.

Symptoms

While older kids are able to verbalize head pain, toddlers might find it more difficult to explain the pain they feel. Even if your toddler tells you her head hurts, you won't know for sure the intensity of her pain. Watch for changes in your toddler's behavior, such as rubbing her head, becoming cranky or avoiding bright light. Nausea or vomiting sometimes accompanies headaches.

Types

Like adults, toddlers experience different types of headaches. According to the Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene on his DrGreene.com website, children might experience migraine, organic or tension headaches. Toddlers aren't as likely to have a tension or stress headache as older children, but it is a possibility. Organic headaches are also uncommon in children.

Causes

Several different causes may be responsible. Common illnesses often have headaches as a symptom, like colds, sinus infections, ear infections and throat problems. Dehydration or a lack of sleep can result in a headache. A bump to the head results in a headache for some toddlers, and bumps and falls are common during the toddler years, especially when your child is beginning to walk and improve his balance. Meningitis is a less common cause of headaches for small kids, but the illness is very serious, particularly if is bacterial meningitis. A stiff neck, high fever, rash, light sensitivity and vomiting are common symptoms of meningitis. An even less likely cause of a toddler's headache is a brain tumor. Early morning headaches that seem to increase in intensity or wake your child are sometimes associated with brain tumors, according to Dr. Greene.

Treatment

The cause of your toddler's headaches helps determine the course of treatment. If an illness is to blame, treating the illness itself often relieves the headache. Getting plenty of sleep and drinking lots of water helps treat and prevent some headaches. A toddler-strength over-the-counter pain reliever is an option if your child's headache causes her discomfort. Never give a toddler aspirin due to the risk of Reye's syndrome. Rest and a cool washcloth or massage might also help the headache go away.

Seeking Medical Attention

The severity of the headache and the accompanying symptoms help you decide if medical treatment is necessary. If your child's headache also includes other symptoms, call his doctor to determine the need for a medical checkup. Any headache that seems very severe is cause for a trip to the doctor. Medical attention is also recommended if a your baby's headaches appear to get worse or are frequentl.

About the Author

Shelley Frost started writing professionally in 2007. She specializes in parenting and education topics. Frost gained her experience in various positions in the education field, including classroom teaching and tutoring. She holds a BA in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

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