Headache

Symptom Definition

  • Pain or discomfort of the scalp or forehead areas
  • The face and ears are excluded
  • Main cause: muscle tension headache or headache from fever

See More Appropriate Topic

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance)

  • Difficult to awaken

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Confused thinking or slurred speech
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Weakness or unsteady walking
  • Stiff neck
  • Severe headache with fever or vomiting

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Sore throat present > 24 hours
  • Sinus pain or pressure of forehead

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Headache present > 24 hours
  • Headaches are a recurrent problem

Parent Care at Home If

  • Mild headache and you don't think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for Mild Headaches

  1. Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief. (See Dosage table) Headaches due to fever are also helped by fever reduction.
  2. Food: Give fruit juice or food if your child is hungry or hasn't eaten in > 4 hours.(Reason: skipping a meal can cause a headache in many children).
  3. Rest: Lie down in a quiet place and relax until feeling better.
  4. Local Cold: Apply a cold washcloth or ice pack to the forehead for 20 minutes.
  5. Stretching: Stretch and massage any tight neck muscles.
  6. Call Your Doctor If
    • Headache lasts > 24 hours despite using a pain medicine
    • Your child becomes worse or develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms