Welcome to HEADEGGS. This website is all about headaches in children and adolescents. It focuses on the two most common types of recurring headache: tension-type headaches and migraines.
Headaches are a common problem in children and adolescents. They can negatively impact many different areas of a young person‘s life. For example, youth with headaches may find their concentration suffers, school absences increase, mood deteriorates, or that they regularly cancel plans with friends. This is stressful not only for young people, but also for their families. The good news is that you and your child can do something about their headaches! This is why it is so important to actively prevent and manage headaches!
The website HEADEGGS was primarily created for children and adolescents, to provide them with easy-to-understand information about headaches and how to deal with them. All information on this website is based on science. Also, the usefulness of the Headeggs website is currently being tested in randomized controlled trials in clinical and school settings.
We have also summarized some important information for caregivers. Feel free to share this site with family members, teachers, and coaches so that they too can better understand headache pain and optimally support your child.
Here’s how you can support your child in using this website:
…if they have recurrent headaches. This will help them to be well-informed about the two most common types of primary headaches and what they can do about them.
…even if they have not had headaches before. This will give them tips on how to continue preventing headaches.
…so that you are equally well-informed.
…to be able to support your child in managing or preventing headaches.
…to learn the differences between a tension-type headache and a migraine: it’s important to treat them differently!
…so that you can learn how to best manage headaches – your child’s and maybe even your own.
…to be able to support your child in dealing with headaches.
…to maybe get some good tips yourself for dealing with your own headaches.
…with family members, teachers, coaches, and other important adults in your child’s life so that they can understand and support your child.
To properly manage or treat headaches, it is important to understand why they develop. There can be multiple reasons for headaches. Biological, psychological and social factors always play a role in the development of pain. This is referred to as the “bio-psycho-social” model of pain.
Among the biological or physical causes that can contribute to headache development is genetic predisposition. This means that because of their genes, some people are more prone to developing headaches than other people. This is true for both tension-type headaches and migraines. Since genetic predisposition cannot be changed, it is therefore even more important to be aware of other factors, because these can be influenced and even modified.
In tension-type headaches, for example, muscle tension in the neck and shoulders can contribute to pain development. Additionally, irregular sleep patterns can lead to more frequent migraine episodes, and poor sleep in general can increase tension-type headaches.
Stress is an important psychological factor that can affect both tension-type headaches and migraines. Stress can arise from time pressures, the demands of a busy schedule, and from emotions like sadness or anxiety. Stress can also be related to social factors, such as challenges with friends, family, or school. Such stress can lead to physical tension in the muscles, which, as described above, also contributes to pain.
To effectively reduce headaches, it is important to address all three types of factors: the biological, psychological, and social factors.
For a clear explanation of how tension-type headaches develop within the bio-psycho-social model, watch the video linked below: “Tension-type headache? Got it under control!”
Tension-type headache are the most common type of headache. Almost everyone has had one. Have you?
Migraine is the second most common type of headache in children and adolescents. About one in 10 adolescents experiences migraines, which is similar to the rates of migraines in adults. Girls/women are affected y migraines more often than boys/men.
Migraines and tension-type headaches are primary headaches, meaning they have no underlying disease. These headaches don’t occur from physical damage or structural problems in the brain, nor do they cause physical harm to the body when they occur.
The two types of primary headaches need to be distinguished from each other because they are treated differently.
How do I know if my child has tension-type headaches or migraines?
To help distinguish between the two types of primary headaches, here is a table comparing typical symptoms of tension-type headaches and migraines in childhood.
To distinguish whether your child has a tension-type headache or a migraine, using the “bounce test” may help. If your child’s headache gets much stronger when they jump up and down, this suggests they are probably having a migraine episode. If the headache does not get worse (or only gets slightly worse) when bouncing, then it may be a tension-type headache.
Using a headache diary is also a good way to distinguish the two types of headaches.
To make a formal headache diagnosis, it is essential that your child sees a medical professional.
A child can have both tension-type headaches and migraines! But recognizing that there are two different types of headaches is necessary to properly diagnose and treat them.
The ways that we treat and manage tension-type headaches and migraine differ significantly.
Tension-type headaches are often mild to moderate in intensity. Even though they are uncomfortable, you can still do normal activities. Research studies have shown that distraction, physical activity, and relaxation can help relieve tension-type headaches. Medication, however, should not be overused.
More information about how you can support your child during tension-type headaches can be found in the “Supporting your child” section above.
Migraine episodes are usually accompanied by severe head pain as well as other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. During a migraine, children usually want to rest. Often, taking medication at the first sign of a migraine episode can quickly interrupt a migraine. However, a medical professional must determine which medication is right for your child to take. Medications should always be taken as prescribed by a doctor, the correct dose at the right time. After taking the medication, your child should rest until the medication has taken effect. Then, your child can resume their typical routine.
More information about how you can support your child during migraine headaches can be found in the “Supporting your child” section above.
Headache medication should be taken only when necessary, and as recommended by a medical professional.
Taking pain medication too often can cause a “medication-induced headache” to develop, where taking pain medication actually makes the headaches worse and more persistent.
For example, in adults, taking medication for headaches for more than 15 days per month can cause a medication-induced headache. In young people, even less than that could have the same effect.
There is only one thing that can be done about medication-induced headache: you must completely discontinue taking pain medication. In many cases, this requires the support of medical experts.
The tension-type headache pages for youth can be found here:
The migraine pages for youth can be found here:
There are several ways you can help your child manage their headaches.
Strategies to alleviate migraines are summarized in Caregiver Resource below.
Important: If your child’s headaches change in frequency or severity, be sure to follow-up with their medical provider again. You can find pediatric headache experts local to your area here:
There are several ways to reduce stress and tension:
You can find more tips on getting a good night’s sleep here:
How well does your child sleep? Find out if there is room for improvement using the Sleep Score!