Headache in Children

This is for breathing difficulty in children 5-16 years.  For children under 5 please contact NHS 24 on 08454 242424.

CALL 999 if any of the following are present

  • The headache came on suddenly, like a thunderclap.
  • Your child has also started to develop a rash that does not fade when you press a glass tumbler or finger against it.  This could be meningitis.  
  • The video below helps to explain what to look out for in meningitis.

CALL 111  OR SEE YOUR EMERGENCY GP if any of the following are present

headache child

  • Your child also has a fever, is flushed, feels hot and sweaty and has a temperature over 38 C/100 F.  (You can buy an infant/child’s thermometer from your local pharmacist.  They are relatively cheap and always worth having).
  • Your child  also says the light hurts their eyes
  • Your child also complains of neck pain when they turn their neck
  • Your child has had a recent blow to the head and they are now becoming drowsy, confused or vomiting.  Most serious head injuries will affect the child within 24 hours but some may take longer.
  • Your child also complains of pain or discharge from inside one ear.  Click here to learn more about earache in children.
  • You child is experiencing problems with their vision.  They may have a migraine which can run in families.
  • The headache has been getting worse or more frequent over the past few weeks.

IF NONE OF THE ABOVE APPLY…

Is there tooth or jaw pain?

Does the headache only come on before they are about to go to school or after they come home?

  • It is safe to manage this problem yourself at home.
  • It could be stress or anxiety about school or the pressure of homework.
  • A chat with their teacher may help.
  • In the short term, paediatric paracetamol oral suspension (available from pharmacists) may ease the symptoms but you should not use it regularly.

Has your child missed breakfast or midday meals?

  • It is safe to manage this problem yourself at home.
  • It is important that your child eats regular meals as missing out on early meals can cause a headache.
  • Give them some bread and milk. Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar.

If none of the above apply…

  • It is safe to manage this problem yourself at home.
  • Try giving your child paediatric paracetamol oral suspension (available from pharmacists) according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If, after taking paracetamol, the headache continues for 24 hours, call 111
  • If the condition gets worse or any other symptoms develop or you are still worried, call 111

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