I’m an expert and you need to know when your little one’s ‘bad headache’ is something more serious

WHEN your little one is unwell, it can be hard to help ease their discomfort.

Most of the time, headaches aren't serious and go away on their own.

But for little ones, they can be troubling and one expert has warned there are some signs you must learn to spot as to when they could bedangerous.

Paediatric nurse and mum Sarah Hunstead said headaches are quite common in children.

However, she highlighted that when they progress to a migraine, these attacks can be scary for both parent and child.

Posting to CPR Kids Facebook page, she said you must see a doctor if you little one's headaches start to disrupt your child's school, home or social life.

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These are the other key points she warned you should never ignore:

  • Your child is having a headache more than once a week
  • The headache wakes your child from their sleep
  • The headache is still present and worse in the morning
  • The headache is associated with vision changes, vomiting or high fevers
  • The headache is the result of an injury
  • You identify that stress is causing your child’s headaches but cannot manage it without further help.

She added: "If you think the headache is just a ‘normal’, manageable one and is nothing to worry further about, treatment at home can be as simple as relaxing and making sure fluids are up.

"A cool, wet cloth placed on the forehead may help relieve the headache, and massaging or stretching the head and neck muscles if they are tight or tender may also help.

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"If you find headaches are impacting your child’s life frequently, or have any concerns for any reason, keep a headache diary."

In this diary, Sarah said to include key points such as when the headache started and if there is a noticeable trigger – such as a food they have eaten or a stressful environment.

The diary should also include a record of how long the headaches last and where about on the head they felt it most.

For example, did they feel it most on their forehead, or was it more prominent on their temples.

As part of the log, also be sure to ask your child how severe the pain is on a scale from one to ten.

You should also jot down how easy it was to treat at home, how the child slept that night and any other symptoms, Sarah said.

What can cause a headache?

The NHS says that there are many things that can cause headaches.

Guidance states that the most common causes are usually down to:

  • having a cold or flu
  • stress
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • bad posture
  • eyesight problems
  • not eating regular meals
  • not drinking enough fluids (dehydration)
  • taking too many painkillers
  • having your period or during menopause


In the event of an emergency, you should always call 999.

The NHS says you should get an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if your child is under the ager of 12 as their headache wakes them up at night.

Guidance states you should also seek help if their headache wakes them up in the morning, or if it gets progressively worse.

You should also seek help if it is triggered or made worse by coughing, sneezing or bending down, they have a headache and are vomiting or if they have one with a squint.

Parents who are worried should go to A&E or call 999 if their child has a head injury or if the headache comes on suddenly and is extremely painful.

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Also seek help if they have sudden problems with vision or feel drowsy or confused.

A headache alongside a high temperature and a rash could be a sign of meningitis so it's key to seek help immediately.

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