Should I Be Concerned If My 12-Year-Old Often Complains Of Headaches?

Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer answers the question: 'Concerns About Child With Headaches?'

ByABC News
December 26, 2007, 12:51 PM

— -- Question: My 12-Year-Old Often Complains Of Headaches But My Pediatrician Says It's Nothing. Should I Be Concerned?

Answer: Should you be concerned about your child's headaches if the pediatrician says it's nothing? It really depends on a number of things.

First of all, headaches are very common. About 15 percent of the population of children in our country do have headaches.

The real issue is, are there any other associated symptoms or things that your child does or complains about with the headaches? For example, does your child wake up every morning and vomit? That might be a dangerous sign that needs further checkup. Are there any other physical symptoms? Does your child have a funny feeling in his or her fingers or a part of the body that suddenly starts twitching or not working right? Obviously this needs further attention.

Also allergies can cause headaches. Does your child have a chronically stuffy nose, or sinuses -- that should get checked out.

Or most importantly, or as important, are the headaches getting in the way of function? So, do the headaches get in the way of your child's falling asleep at night, or going to school, or being involved in social play activities, physical activity. These are all important no matter what the cause of the headache, even if they're tension/stress headaches, because anything that gets in the way of function needs to be addressed.

Also, something very simple that you can do as a parent is touch your child in the back of his neck or her neck, along the back and the top of the shoulder, and also at the temples. If you child says those areas hurt, more likely the headaches are due to muscle spasm, what's called musculoskeletal or myofascial headaches. And those kinds of headaches are related to not what's going on inside the head, but the muscles outside the head, and that's where physical therapy, massage relaxation techniques, can really help relax those muscles and get rid of the headache.

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