Going Back to School Can Cause Recurring Headaches in Children
Going back to school can be stressful to children, from kindergartners to the college bound. Stress often manifests itself through the tightening of the scalp and neck muscles which are believed to be causes of tension type headaches. It is important not to underestimate the mental and emotional stress children sometimes face. If your child is complaining of headaches during this time of year, it is possible they are experiencing tension type headaches brought on by back to school stress. Twenty percent of teens experience tension type headaches, although they are less frequent among younger children.
Signs of a Tension Type Headache
Tension type headaches tend to start around midday. They generally start with low or moderate pain that manifests as a band of pain and pressures. The pain increases gradually and the headache lasts from less than thirty minutes to a full day. Severe tension type headaches are more persistent, occurring almost every day, include a more throbbing pain and will usually last all day.
Causes of Tension Type Headaches
Tension type headaches are most often the direct result of muscle tension. The same type of muscle tension that can be triggered by the mental and emotional stress some children experience when returning to school. Other causes for muscle tension are lack of sleep and poor posture. Going back to school can present a number of stressful factors for children, and while we may associate stress with negative experiences, some stressful situations are actually positive. Review the list below to determine if some back to school experiences may be causing your child to get tension type headaches.
- Going to a new school
- School discipline
- Grades and exams
- Friends or lack of friends
- Sports and extra-curricular activities
- Having to work part time
- Learning to drive
- Lack of sleep
Frequent headaches can result in missing school and that is likely to lead to further stress. Any frequent headaches warrant a visit to the doctor. It is important, first and foremost, to rule out any serious underlying condition that may be causing frequent or severe headaches. At Miami Headache Institute we will determine the underlying cause of your child’s headaches and develop a treatment plan that will allow your child to have a positive and productive educational experience. If your child, or anyone in your family, is experiencing frequent headaches, call us right away to set up an appointment.
Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the co-founder of the New Jersey Headache Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas. Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi's medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.
Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.