Eyecatcher For parents


Adolescent with headache

What types of headache are there?

There are over 200 kinds of headache, but only two of them are common in childhood and adolescence: tension headaches and migraines.

Approximately 44.2% of children and adolescents from 3 to 17 years of age report having had a headache within the last 3 months (Du et al. 2010). The frequency of headaches increases with age. If one considers the different kinds of headache, 7.5% of 7 to 14-year-old children and adolescents suffer from migraines, 18.5% have tension headaches and in another 27% the type of headache can’t be precisely classified (Krӧner-Herweg 2007).

Tension headaches are the most common headaches, and virtually every adult has had one. They can be triggered by stress or tension, but also a lack of physical activity.

Migraines can trigger severe headache attacks which occur regularly from every two days to twice a year. They can last several hours or less often up to two days. The headache increases with physical exertion and is accompanied by nausea, vomiting and light and/or noise sensitivity. There is often a tendency towards migraines within families.

Ways out of the pain

What many people don’t know is that taking pain medication too often for headaches can trigger or reinforce ongoing headaches.

Fortunately, most named headache types are amenable to treatment.

As chronic headaches can in very rare cases have a dangerous cause, we recommend  that all children and adolescents with them have certain investigations in order to exclude them. Among these would be, for example, an MRT of the head (to exclude space-occupying diseases) and a visit to an ophthalmologist (to exclude defective vision and a so-called papilledema). Depending on the symptoms, further investigations may be required.

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