What's Going Around: Back-to-school headaches


Parents should keep in mind that a new school year can be a pain in the head for school children.

Emergency medicine experts say a return to the classroom often brings a rise in the number of children they see for headaches.

The most common kinds of headaches are migraine and tension. Doctors say they hear the symptoms from children of all grade levels.

Dr. Mike Patrick, who is an emergency medicine expert at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said the transition to a busier schedule contributes to the problem as well as what they eat.

“They may also not be eating or drinking as well-- nutrition and hydration are all important things to keep headaches away," he said.

Teenagers may drink caffeine, which for some can ease headache pain. Dr. Mike said too much can be a problem especially in energy drinks, which he said are never recommended.

“They have too much caffeine in them but you know coffee, tea - especially in teenagers if they have a habit of drinking a little bit of that in the morning -- probably drink some water as well just to stay hydrated," he said.

Parents need to make sure teens are eating a nutritious breakfast and lunch to help them power through a day of classes and extracurricular activities.

Experts recommend teaching children how to manage stress which can trigger tension and migraine headaches.

Dr. Mike suggested working with them to create a schedule and planning system to help ease anxiety. Acetaminophen, which is most commonly known as Tylenol and ibuprofen--Advil or Motrin-- are fine for treating headaches.

It is always best to follow dosing directions on the package.

Remember, if your child has recurrent headaches where you're giving them medicine for their headaches more than a couple times a week or there are other symptoms like fever or stiff neck, you should get medical attention.