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Why Does My Child Get Headaches Often?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 15, 2023

Why Does My Child Get Headaches Often?

It’s not unusual for children to come to their parents complaining of headaches. When you find yourself asking, why does my child get headaches often?, please refer to the guide below.

My Child Complains of Headaches: Should I Worry?

Like adults, children experience all sorts of headaches, too. They can complain of migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches, or headaches due to nasal congestion. Most headaches in children go away in a matter of hours and are no cause of concern.

But, does your child get headaches often? If it is the case, then it’s better to look more closely into what’s causing it. This is because recurrent headaches may lead to problems in your child’s routine and behavior.

why does my child get headaches often

Common Causes Headaches in Children

If ever your little one complains that their head hurts, consider the following possible triggers:

Head Injury

Parents, when your child suddenly complains of a headache, it’s a good idea to ask them if they hit their head hard or had a fall accident that affected their head.

This is because any trauma to the head can trigger headaches. And while most injuries are minor, having a doctor check them is still the best course of action.

Primary Headaches

Primary headaches or those not linked to any health condition have three kinds: migraine, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.

The exact cause of primary headaches is still unknown, but often, they result from expanded blood vessels, tight muscles, or changes in nerve signals.


Children get stressed, too, and stress can cause any primary headaches. If your little one feels anxious, worried, depressed, or mentally tired, they might experience headaches. Interestingly, even too much excitement can trigger a headache.

Recurring headaches in children could mean that they are frequently experiencing stress.

Excessive Consumption of Certain Foods

Does your child get headaches often? If that’s the case, think about their diet.

Reports say that nitrates, a common preservative found in cured and smoked meats like sausages, bacon, and bologna, can cause headaches. Likewise, foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG) can also serve as a headache trigger.

Sleep Deprivation

A child who has trouble sleeping or remaining asleep can experience headaches, too.

So if they frequently complain of headaches, check for other indicators that they are not getting adequate sleep, like bags under their eyes and appearing sleepy or tired during the day.

Too Much Screen Time

And finally, let’s not forget that too much use of screen devices can lead to eye strain, lack of circulation, and exhaustion – all of which can result in headaches.

As much as possible, follow the recommended screen time for children. Additionally, remind them to assume the proper posture and take frequent breaks to prevent eye strain.

Seeking Medical Help

Like mentioned earlier, headaches in children are not usually a cause of concern.

However, if it’s already interfering with their daily activities, or if they are complaining of headaches frequently (twice or more a week), it’s best to bring them to the doctor. That way, you can identify what’s causing the headache, and your child can receive appropriate intervention.

Moreover, seek medical help, too if your child:

  • Experiences headaches while coughing, sneezing, straining, or running.
  • Has other symptoms, like sensitivity to light or sound, confusion, earache, or eye pain.
  • Complains that their headache is getting worse.
  • Wakes up from their sleep due to severe headache.

Finally, bring them to the doctor immediately if they:

  • Have severe headache with symptoms like vomiting, double vision, confusion.
  • Appear too weak, sleepy or hard to wake up.
  • Have a fever and a stiff neck.

Caution in the Use of Pain Relievers

Doctors highly discourage relying on medications when it comes to treating headaches in children. A single dose here and there will most likely be okay, but giving them more than 3 doses per week can ironically cause medication overuse headaches.

If you find yourself giving them medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen more than thrice a week, it’s best to consult a pediatrician.

Learn more about Child Health here. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 15, 2023

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