Headaches: Condition Overview

What is a headache?

The Neurosciences Institute treats patients with headaches

A headache is a symptom when children or adults experience pain on or in the face or head. If your child is complaining of headaches, certain characteristics (such as the onset, duration, pain, severity, and location of the headache) can help doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado determine the cause.

Associated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or sounds and triggers also help our team distinguish between different causes of headaches.

What causes a headache?

A headache can be a symptom of a variety of health conditions. The most common cause is usually a primary headache (a migraine or tension headache) or from a cold and other infections like flu or strep throat.

Less common causes of headaches can include neurological infections, masses and other structural abnormalities. However, these are very rare and have characteristics that will help your child's doctor establish a diagnosis.

What are the types of headaches?

"Primary headaches" include migraines, tension-type headaches, and cluster/trigeminal autonomic cephalgias. The most common headaches in children are migraines and tension-related.

Who gets headaches?

Headaches can be a common problem in children. Up to 11% of children and 28% of adolescents have reoccurring headaches. Children of both genders and all races can get headaches.

Helpful resources

If your child is experiencing headaches, your primary care provider is the best place to start. He or she can help guide you and make a referral to a specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado if needed.

Additional headache resources: