Welcome to HEADEGGS. This website is all about headaches in children and adolescents. It focuses on the two most common recurring headache types: tension-type headaches and migraines.
Headaches are a common problem in children and especially in adolescents. They can negatively impact many different areas of a child‘s life. For example, children with headaches may find their concentration suffers, school absences increase, moods deteriorate, or that they regularly cancel meeting with friends. This is stressful not only for the children, but also for their family. The good news is that you can do something about headaches! This is why it is so important to actively engage against headaches.
The website HEADEGGS is primarily aimed at children and adolescents, to provide information about headaches and how to deal with them. All information on the website is based on science. In addition, the usefulness of this website is currently being tested in randomized controlled trials in clinical and school settings.
In addition to content for children and adolescents, we have summarized some important information for you, the parents. Feel free to share this site with grandparents or teachers so that they, too, can better understand headache pain and optimally support your child.
Enjoy exploring and learning!
Here’s how you can support your child in using the website:
…if he or she has problems with headaches, to be well informed about the two most common types of primary headaches and what they can do about them is really important.
…even if he or she has not had headaches before, this website will give them tips on how to keep it that way.
…so that you are equally well-informed.
…to be able to support your child in dealing with or preventing headaches.
…to learn the differences between a tension-type headache and a migraine, because it is important to treat them differently!
…so that you can learn how to manage headaches – both your child’s headaches and maybe 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 grandparents or teachers 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.
A genetic predisposition is among the biological or physical causes that contribute to headache development. Some people are more prone to headaches than others. This is true for both tension-type headaches and migraines. Since genetic predisposition cannot be influenced, it is even more important to know the other factors, which can be influenced.
With tension-type headaches, for example, muscle tension in the neck and shoulder areas contribute to pain development. Very irregular sleep patterns can lead to more frequent migraine attacks, and poor sleep in general can increase tension-type headaches.
Stress is a very important psychological factor that affects both tension-type headaches and migraines. Stress arises, for example, from time pressure and other demands, as well as from emotional stress such as sadness or anxiety. Stress is also often related to social factors, such as troubles with friends, family, or at school. Stress can lead to physical tension in the muscles, which, as described above, also promotes pain.
To permanently reduce headaches, it is important to address all three types of factors: biological, psychological, and social.
For a clear explanation of how tension-type headaches develop within the bio-psycho-social model, watch the video “Tension-type headache? Got it under control!”
Tension-type headache is 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 suffers from migraines. This number also corresponds to the frequency of migraines in adults. Girls and women are affected more often than boys and men.
But how do I know if my child has tension-type headaches or migraines?
To help distinguish between the two types of headaches, here is a table comparing typical symptoms of tension-type headaches and migraines in children.
To distinguish whether your child has a tension-type headache or a migraine, the “bounce test“ can be helpful. If your child’s headache gets stronger when they bounce up and down, this indicates they are having a migraine attack. If the headache does not get worse (or only gets slightly worse) when bouncing, then it could be a tension-type headache.
The headache diary is also a good way to distinguish the two types of headaches.
How to treat each type of headache can be found under “Supporting your child”.
The treatments of acute tension-type headaches and migraine attacks differ significantly.
Tension-type headaches are often mild to moderate in intensity. Even though they are uncomfortable, you can still do normal activities. Studies have shown that distraction, physical activity, and relaxation help relieve tension-type headaches. Medication, however, should not be taken.
To learn how you can support your child during tension-type headaches, refer to the “Supporting your child” section.
Migraine attacks are usually accompanied by very severe headaches and other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. During a migraine attack, children usually want to rest. Medication can quickly interrupt a migraine attack. Ibuprofen is the recommended medication of choice. However a doctor must determine which medication is right for your child. 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. The effects will start about 30 minutes after taking the medication, and then your child can resume his or her daily routine.
Migraine prophylaxis – taking migraine medication every day – is almost never recommended for children!
You can learn other ways to support your child in the “Supporting your child” section
Headache medication should be taken only when necessary. That means avoiding medication when you have a tension-type headache, and only taking medication for an acute migraine attack.
If a child takes pain medication too often, a “medication-induced headache” may develop where taking pain medication actually makes the headache worse.
In adults, taking pain medication for more than 15 days a month can cause a medication-induced headache. In children, even less than that may be too many!
There is only one thing that can be done about medication-induced headache: you must abstain completely from pain medication. In most cases, this requires the support of pain experts.
The tension-type headache pages for children can be found here:
The migraine pages for children can be found here:
There are several ways you can help your child deal with headaches.
First, we will give you tips on how to provide support for acute headaches.
The strategies to alleviate migraines are also summarized in the PDF file for parents.
Important: if your child’s headaches change in frequency or severity, be sure to see a doctor again. You can find children’s headache experts local to Germany 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”!