Children's Hospital Colorado

Headaches in Children

What is a headache?

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 in children?

"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.

Get to know our pediatric experts.

Amy Wrenn, DNP, CPNP

Amy Wrenn, DNP, CPNP

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Eileen Yager, MD

Eileen Yager, MD

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Children's Colorado in the news


Tips for treating migraines in children

June 20, 2019

Fewer than half of people with migraines are accurately diagnosed. That’s no different for children. Marcy Yonker, MD, dispels myths around symptoms and solutions for pediatric migraines.