Niagara Pediatric Neurology Patient Resources

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What is a headache?

A headache is a pain, ache or throbbing sensation in any area of the head. Headaches are common in children and teenagers

  • 3-5% of 7-year-olds have recurrent headaches
  • 15% of 15-year-olds have recurrent headaches

Headaches are uncomfortable and can impact a child's ability to participate in school and activities.  Headaches are only very rarely associated with a serious medical condition. In the majority of children, there is no single cause for headache.  There are a variety of factors which may contribute to headaches including physical/environment, psychological, and genetic factors.

Read more about headaches from The Hospital for Sick Children.

Common Types of Headaches in Children

  • Migraine: Moderate to severe throbbing pain, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. The pain may be localized to the temple, eye, or back of the head. In migraine with aura, visual disturbance, sensory changes or weakness can precede the pain.
  • Tension Type Headache: Mild to moderate steady pain throughout the head, but commonly felt across the forehead or in the back of the head. Generally not accompanied by other symptoms.
  • Sinus Headache: Mild to moderate steady pain that typically occurs in the face, at the bridge of the nose, or in the cheeks. May be accompanied by nasal congestion and postnasal drip.
  • Chronic Migraine: As per the International Headache Society, chronic migraine is defined as headache occurring on 15 or more days per month for more than three months, which, on at least 8 days per month, has the features of migraine headache.

Does my child need an MRI for their headache?

Migraine Education Video

This important video is a must-watch for all patients with migraine.

Lifestyle Factors Which Contribute to Headaches in Children

Headaches in children and adults can be affected by:

  • Sleep patterns
  • Diet (skipping meals and food triggers)
  • Exercise
  • Mood (Depression and or Anxiety)
  • Excessive Screen Use

Managing lifestyle factors:

School Accommodations for Headaches

Treatments During a Headache or Migraine Attack

Non-Drug Treatments

  • Cool cloth, hot pack
  • Warm bath or shower
  • Sleep
  • Dark, quiet room
  • Gentle massage

Over the Counter Medications

Over the counter medications work best when they are given within 30 minutes of the headache. These medications should be limited to no more than 10 times per month.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Naproxen (Aleve)

Prescription Medications



Treatments to Prevent Headache or Migraines

Non-Drug Treatments


Massage Therapy


Progressive Muscle Relaxation



Vitamin Therapy

Magnesium: 9mg/kg max 500mg per day

Vitamin B2: 200-400mg daily

Coenzyme Q10: 1-3mg/kg max 150mg 

Melatonin (if sleep issues): 1-5mg nightly (start with lowest dose) 

Prescription Medication






Chronic Daily Headache

Medication Overuse Headache:

The following resources may be helpful for patients with a diagnosis of medication overuse headache:

Information Handout

Tension Type Headache:

The following resources may be helpful for patients with a diagnosis of tension type headache:

Information Handout

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) Headache

The following resources may be helpful for patients with a diagnosis of IIH:

Information Handout

Lumbar Puncture

Treatments (IIH)


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