Ohio – A new research conducted by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital suggests that headaches in children increase during the fall, and may be produced by back-to-school changes in routine, sleep and stress.
Researchers analyzed over 1,300 visits to the hospital’s emergency department from 2010 to 2014. They found that visits from children from 5 to 18 year old were almost the same all year long, however in the fall the cases jumped 31%.
“Stress is really a significant player with children’s and teen’s headaches – parents report that all the time, we see that all the time. And school is the biggest stressor,” lead researcher, Dr. Ann Pakalnis, neurologist and director of the Comprehensive Headache Clinic at Nationwide Children’s, said.
Other causes that experts attribute to headaches are: not drinking enough fluids, skipping meals, lack of exercise, too much screen time, after-school activities, etc.
According to the National Headache Foundation, about 20% (10.3 million) of school-age kids in the US are prone to suffer from headaches. The organization continues by adding that 15% of these kids experience tension-type headaches, and 5% migraines.
The most common types of headaches seen by doctors are tension headaches and migraines. Migraines are less common in children, but are very severe regarding to the pain the child experience. The condition is generally associated with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound and smell. On the other hand, tension headaches feel more like tightening around the head, and children can continue with their normal day despite the discomfort.
Dr. Howard Jacobs, headache specialist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, explained that headaches are actually avoidable. “Your brain is like your cellphone. If you don’t plug your cellphone in, it doesn’t have energy, it doesn’t work well. If you don’t plug your brain in by providing energy, it doesn’t work well and that causes headaches,” he said.
In order to reduce the risk of headache, the experts recommend to: eat at least three balanced meals a day; drink enough liquids (avoid sports drinks or caffeine); sleep through the night without napping during the day; help you child release some stress.
Furthermore, the National Sleep Foundation recommends to sleep from 9 to 11 hours a night for children ages 6-13, and 8 to 10 hours a night for older teens.
In some cases, headaches indicate severe health issues. Remember to always consult a physician if headaches interfere with a child’s normal routine.