Many parents are surprised to hear how common headaches in children are, even severe headaches. Migraine is the most common acute and recurrent headache syndrome in children. Appr 20% of children aged 4 to 18 years report having had notable recurrent headaches (including migraine) in the past 12 months. This is quite a lot.
We classify headaches as primary (migraine, tension-type headache etc) or secondary (caused by another disease like brain tumor, meningitis, vascular disorder etc.)
Children suffer from the same types of headaches adults do, but their symptoms may differ.
In older children and adolescents, the headache presentation is quite similar to adults.
In younger children the diagnosis might be more difficult. Young children are not able to express pain as well as older children. Therefore, headaches may present themselves as crying, rocking, or hiding. Moreover, young children are able to ignore the pain through play.
Chronic headaches may present themselves as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleeping disorders or behavior problems.
The treatment depends on the cause of the headache, such as migraine, tension type headache, cluster headache and so on. It includes life style adjustments, finding and avoiding triggers and medication if necessary.
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Dr. Van der Kamp is a certified neurologist and neurophysiologist, who graduated from the University Hospital of Leiden, the Netherlands. His promotion thesis in 1994 focused on magnetic brain stimulation. He spent a year as a fellow in London with Prof. C.D. Marsden.