14 answers

3 Year Old with Headaches

My 3.5 year old daughter frequently complains of her forehead hurting. It's gone on for about a year or so, and averages once or twice a month where she complains and sometimes cries. She always points to her general forehead area when I ask where it hurts. I can't seem to link it to any particular cause. For a while I thought it happened when she was tired, but then last week she woke up from a good nap and then complained of it hurting an hour or so later. The Dr. told us to keep a log of when it happens and noticeable patterns, but I can't seem to find a cause or common pattern for its occurence. Giving her Tylenol takes care of the pain, but I don't want to just be masking the pain and not finding the root of the problem.

Anybody have a similar experience or advice on what to do?

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Featured Answers

Could be a food allergy. Might be worth getting her tested. Gluten or wheat intolerance tested too. If you don't want to got to a doc you can try an elimination diet first. Google "food allergy elimination diet" and see if it's something you want to try. Good luck.

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More Answers

Have you had her sinuses checked? Does she have allergies? I get headaches like that to for those reasons.

I hope you figure something out soon!

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Forehead pain is sinuses. Talk to your doctor about allergies. She might need an antihistimine and a decongestant.

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I assume you've had her vision checked? HEadaches are often linked to eye strain. Otherwise dehydration is a BIG contributor to headaches - try upping her water intake. Other than that, can she be evaluated by a pediatric neurologist? Talk to your pediatrician about this. Good luck.

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Hi, A.. As part of my job as a nurse practitioner in child neurology, I deal with this every day.

Most common reasons for headaches: poor diet, dehydration, stress/anxiety (even good stress), lack of sleep (should be getting about 9-10 hrs/sleep/night) and lack of exercise. As some of the other readers asked, is there a family history of headaches/migraines? Are there particular times of the year or day that the headaches occur? Other important questions: is the pain associated with dizziness, nausea and/or vomiting, light or noise sensitivity? She is a little young but does she complain of seeing anything 'funny' when she has a headache or before getting a headache?

Headaches ARE common in children, despite what others, even pediatricians say and the chance of anything 'bad' causing it, ie, brain tumor is VERY rare! I agree that you should keep a log. It's OK to give ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) as it's a better pain reliever than Tylenol. Make sure you are giving the appropriate dose. We tend to underdose children with pain which doesn't help. Do not use thses meds more than 3 times/week as they can cause more headaches.

Revisit your pediatrician in a few weeks after keeping a log to see if you can come up with a trigger and address the trigger. If they occur mostly in the afternoon, probably due to lack of sleep. If the headache frequency increases over time or wakes her up in the middle of the night, she might want to be seen by a child neurologist.

I'd try this first.

Good luck!

K. M.

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I would have her vision checked. Both of my kids complained of headaches and it turned out they needed glasses.

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Migraines/Headaches can be allergy related. Does she have hay fever or other allergy symptoms?

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Hi A., have you looked into a correlation between foods your daughter eats and her headaches? It can by foods she eats on a regular basis, foods she eats only 1-2 times per month or food additives/preservatives. I see many kids with food sensitivities in my practice who can have a wide range of symptoms. Perhaps you should try keeping a food journal for a month and see if you notice particular foods causing headaches 6-72 hours after consuming the same food.

I hope you can figure this one out! I feel so bad for your little one (and you for feeling helpless!).

In Health,
L. Vachani

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My son was about that age when he started getting frequent headaches. They got worse and we first went to the ped. then the neurologist. Turns out they were migraines. We have a family history of migraines on both sides, so it was fairly easy for my son to get a diagnosis. Our neurologist was great and suggested supplements of riboflavin and magnesium. This works well for him. If I could have, I would have dealt with this earlier as it had an effect on him in school before we got it under control. Keep working with your doctor, keep the records and if they end up being migraines, find out what the triggers are and consider the supplements. Keep your duaghter hydrated and be careful about using too much tylenol as she could be getting rebound headaches. Also, when my son (or I) just start getting a headache, a strong cup of black tea (caffeine does the trick) can work.

I hope this gets better for her. I know that it can be very difficult.

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How is her diet? I suffered frequent headaches as a young child and looking back, I think it was a result of eating too much sugar and processed foods (cookies, kraft mac & cheese, ramen noodles, etc). My mom had terrible morning sickness when she was pregnant with my little sister so I sort of had to fend for myself when it came to meals. When I started eating healthier I didn't have headaches anymore. I think it would be worth trying to cut out sugar & very salty foods for a while and see if you notice a difference. I really hope she's feeling better soon!

1 mom found this helpful

hi A.,

it's good that you want to find the root of the problem rather than just giving tylenol for her headaches.

have you considered taking her to a acupuncturist? they look for imbalances and help bring the body back to balance. since she is so little, they would probably use tuina (massage) instead of acupuncture for her.

there is a great pediatric acupuncturist at five branches in san jose. let me know if you are interested and i can give you her name.

hope your daughter feels better soon!


1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
I appreciate your desire to get to the root problem. I started having migraines at age 13 and we did everything you can imagine. When I was 26 I switched to all natural beauty products and cleaning products( because of my newborn son). By eliminating all the chemicals, my migraines were gone!! Turns out many people have "chemical sensitivities" and NO ONE ever mentioned it to me. All the doctors I saw and years of suffering!! Of course, "chemical sensitivities" would also apply to the foods you eat. So you also might want to go organic and all natural as well. If that doesn't help you may want to see Dr. Thomas Cowan in San Francisco. He is an amazing all natural doctor and I am sure he could figure out the problem. He has helped my 3 year old boy with the root cause of his constipation/throwing up.

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There are many reasons for headaches, but the most common offenders in my family seem to be:

*Dehydration from lack of enough water intake (also causes grouchyness)
*too much carbs ,sugar, and/or salt (which also cause dehydration)
*over heating (which causes dehydration)
*Food additives ( MSG is a trigger for me)
*not eating for a while and being hungry (low blood sugar and/or possible dehydration issue since water is extracted from foods as well)

Less common than the above could be parasites, virus or bacteria..but those would come with several other symptoms.


1 mom found this helpful

Could be a food allergy. Might be worth getting her tested. Gluten or wheat intolerance tested too. If you don't want to got to a doc you can try an elimination diet first. Google "food allergy elimination diet" and see if it's something you want to try. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.!

My son began having headaches around 3.5 or 4yrs old. Headaches to the point of throwing up :O(

I began to learn that this is a part of his life when he plays too hard. So, I tried to "prevent it" by having him lay on the couch after preschool with a warm washcloth and have the Tylenol ready. I still have the same "rule" after school......rest for 20 minutes, eat a snack, then homework

My son is now almost 13 and still gets these migraine-like headaches, on occasion. He is very well hydrated, so it's not that, I believe it's just too much activity...... he is ACTIVE! But because he's so active, I make him go to bed at the same time as his 6yr old brother which is 8:15, and he gladly does it.

If your daughter is going to be "prone" to headaches like my son is, then you will begin to pick up on the "signs" and be able to read her face better to associate the way she feels. That came naturally for me because of the headaches. Sometimes, my son didn't even tell me he had a headache, and I gave him Motrin because I knew he had one. And I was right, he had one, he "just forgot to tell me".

Kids at this age become so independent and play SO HARD! I'm sure your daughter will be just fine :O) Just NEVER run out of Tylenol....it's the worst when you do and you need it for one of these headaches.

~N. :O)

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