What causes a headache in children?

There are different types of headaches and reasons as to why they occur. Most headaches in children are not serious but you should always seek medical advice if you are concerned. Some general causes that may trigger a headache include:

  • Cold or flu
  • Stress
  • Eye or vision problems
  • Skipping meals or not eating regularly
  • Dehydration.


How to relieve a headache in children

If your child has a headache, you can try the following to help make them feel more comfortable:

  • Lie them down in a quiet, dark room
  • Put a cool, moist cloth across their forehead or eyes
  • Ask them to breathe easily and deeply
  • Encourage them to have adequate rest and sleep
  • Encourage them to eat or drink something (without caffeine).

Some other natural ways to help children with headaches include relaxation techniques and even the use of a headache diary, which will also be useful to keep track of your child’s headaches and identify possible triggers.

Giving your child pain relief medicine can help. Nurofen for Children contains ibuprofen and has been shown to provide relief for headaches. Make sure that you give your child the medication at a dose that is suitable for their age and weight according to the instructions on the label.

When to see a doctor

Most headaches in children are not serious. However, if you are at all concerned about your child’s headache, consult your doctor.

See your doctor if your child’s headache:

  • Is a new kind of headache for your child
  • Is reoccurring
  • Is accompanied by other symptoms, such as arms or legs feeling numb or weak
  • Is accompanied by unexplained fever
  • Is accompanied by stiff neck or rash
  • Is triggered by coughing or movement
  • Is more severe than usual
  • Is accompanied by blurred vision
  • Concerns you for any reason.

Take your child to the emergency department or call 000 if your child has:

  • Neck stiffness, vomiting or high fevers associated with a headache
  • Injured their head badly, such as after a fall or accident
  • Increasing confusion, changes in their behaviour or they lose balance
  • Vision changes
  • Any other symptoms that concern you, including numbness or tingling in their face or body.

Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning:

  • Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
  • Beyondblue 1300 224 636.