Headaches in children are fairly common, and in most cases, they aren’t a cause for concern. However, if your preteen frequently complains of headaches, a simple adjustment to his or her diet may provide some relief.
Headaches, which are believed to result from changes in the chemicals, nerves, and blood vessels located in the brain, can vary in type and severity. They also can be genetic, meaning if you suffer from headaches, your child probably will, too. While many factors such as lack of sleep, stress, and dehydration have been known to trigger headaches, they also can be triggered by certain foods in your child’s diet. Common trigger foods include:
- Chocolate and foods/drinks containing caffeine
- Dried fruits
- Foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Peanut butter
- Processed meats, such as bologna and hot dogs
- Ripened cheese
Write It Down
If you believe certain foods could be causing your child’s headaches, begin monitoring his or her eating habits and record them in a journal. By keeping a record of the foods your child eats and when he or she experiences discomfort, you may be able to determine which foods should be avoided.
How You Can Help
When your child experiences a headache, it’s important to remember that you can’t treat his or her pain in the same way you might treat your own. Never administer aspirin to children or teens without a doctor’s recommendation, as this can make your child more susceptible to developing Reye syndrome, a life-threatening medical condition. Instead, try the following tips to soothe your child’s discomfort:
- Have him or her rest in a cool, quiet, and dark room.
- Place a moist cloth on his or her forehead.
- Instruct him or her to breath slowly and deeply.
When to See a Doctor
Most headaches are not a sign of a more serious condition, but you may want to consult your child’s primary care provider if the headaches continue occurring frequently despite dietary adjustments. If your child’s headaches occur once a month or more, are particularly painful, or don’t go away for long periods of time, your doctor may be able to recommended treatment options.
Reviewed by Lisa McGuire, M.D., pediatric neurologist at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent.
The above article in no way seeks to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice or care. Please consult your child’s primary care provider regarding any and all information contained therein.