For Some Kids, School Is a Headache


I’m Rachelle Grossman with today’s health
news. If your child is complaining about a headache, he or she may be trying to get out
of school. On the other hand, there might be something else going on. A new study from
Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, found that children’s headaches tend
to increase in fall — just when school reopens for the year. Lead study author, attending
neurologist and Director of the Comprehensive Headache Clinic at Nationwide Children’s,
Dr. Ann Pakalnis, expands on what factors may contribute to these headaches. “We think the stress with adjusting to a new
schedule and new routine really plays a significant role. And then, of course, homework and they’re
not getting enough sleep and those factors.” Headache specialist at Nationwide Children’s
Comprehensive Pediatric Headache Clinic and associate professor of pediatrics at Ohio
State University, Dr. Howard Jacobs, emphasizes on the toll stress can take on young minds. “Stress is a major cause of migraines in kids
and tension headaches. So, fall is usually a busy time for us as the kids start getting
back into school.” Other triggers may include skipping meals,
mild dehydration, too much caffeine, lack of exercise and too much screen time. Dr.
Pakalnis and team looked at about 1,300 emergency department visits from 2010 to 2014. Headaches
increased in the fall among kids ages 5 to 18, with tension headaches and migraines being
the most common types. Migraines headaches typically cause nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity
to light, sound and smell. Tension headaches, on the other hand, are less serious and tend
to feel more like a tightening of the head. So, how do you notice and track your child’s
symptoms? Dr. Pakalnis explains. “Keep a diary of the headaches, keep track
of them. If they do have migraine or tension headaches or you do notice those starting,
you know, to have the child get in and get a diagnosis made because there’s many new
medications that are available that have been FDA approved for treatment of migraine, even
within this past year.” Dr. Pakalnis and team recommend kids eat regular
meals, drink enough water, get regular exercise and enough sleep to ease discomfort and prevent
headaches. So make sure to make time for breakfast each morning, keep your children hydrated
and visit the pediatrician should a headache disrupt your child’s routine.

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