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How to Keep Kids' Headaches Away

Learn about the causes and how you can prevent them.

I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I can't even claim to be one like my friend, Mona, because she watches a lot of those shows about crazy-sized tumors and other medical oddities on the Discovery Health Channel.

But there are times I wish I was, like this past week when all four of my kids had headaches at different times. My oldest daughter came home from her away volleyball match at 8:30 p.m. sidelined with a headache. My other daughter woke up in the middle of the night with one, while my son came home from school with one. They really don't like taking medicine, so offering them something to help alleviate the pain isn't an option.

With all the headaches, they didn't have any other medical symptoms like a sore throat or fever, so it left me wondering about the causes. When is it just temporary pain, and when is it something to be worried about?

After a quick search on "kids headaches causes" I found some very helpful information on headache triggers and preventative measures.

According to KidsHealth.org any of the following can trigger headaches in kids:

  • too little sleep or sudden changes in sleep patterns
  • skipping meals
  • becoming dehydrated
  • stress
  • having a minor head injury
  • using the computer or watching TV for a long time
  • vision problems
  • experiencing changes in hormone levels
  • taking a long trip in a car or bus
  • listening to really loud music
  • smelling strong odors such as perfume, smoke, fumes, or a new car or carpet
  • too much caffeine (in soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate)
  • consuming certain foods (such as alcohol, cheese, nuts, pizza, chocolate, ice cream, fatty or fried food, lunchmeats, hot dogs, yogurt, aspartame, or anything with the food additive MSG)

After running through this list, I was immediately able to identify the causes of all their headaches and not worry that is was anything more serious.

So what can be done to help keep our kids happy and headache free? The American Headache Society recommends the following:

  • Drink plenty of fluids (4-8 glasses per day). Avoid caffeine. And during a headache, drinking a sports drinks may help by keeping sugar and sodium levels normal.
  • Regular and sufficient sleep. Fatigue and overexertion can trigger headaches. To help prevent headaches, make sure your child or teenager is getting at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night and keeps a regular sleep schedule.
  • Eat balanced meals at regular times. Skipping meals can cause low blood sugar, which can trigger a headache. Also, based on past experiences, avoid foods that may trigger headaches in your child.
  • Minimize stress and overcommitments. Avoid overcrowded schedules or stressful and potentially upsetting situations. These can all trigger headaches.

Finally, if your little one does come down with a headache, just remember to keep them quiet and calm, keep their fluids up and make sure they get plenty of rest.

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