14 answers

5 Year Old Is Having Headaches. Should I Be Worried?

My 5 y.o. has been having headaches at the base of her head (right above her neck) off and on for the last few weeks. She occasionally complains that her neck hurts too. I called the pediatrician today and the nurse said that headaches in this region (back of skull) are typically due to stress or tension but that it's unusual in a 5 year old. She said if my daughter were older they would talk about stress relief, etc. but at this age they will probably want to do an MRI to rule out any underlying problem. Should I be worried?? I asked about vision problems and was told that headaches due to poor eyesight, etc. would happen in the frontal area, not the back. I don't want to freak out, but.... Has anyone experienced anything like this with their preschooler?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First, I'd like to thank everyone for their thoughtful and informative responses. What a great resource this forum is for parents. I really appreciate every single person that posted a response to my request. Thank you! :)

Now for an update - I took my daughter to the pediatrician and she actually had an ear infection in her left ear. She literally had no hearing on that side. My pediatrician thinks that this was the cause of her "headaches" because often young children don't know where the pain is eminating from. Kind of like a toothache - your ear, jawline and head can hurt. This was her first and only ear infection that we are aware of and I'm hopeful this will be the end of her neck/headaches.

Thanks again!

Featured Answers

I would highly suggest a chiropractor. I don't know where you live, but there a few I could recommend in Tampa. The one I use and love is Dr. Maddock and his number ###-###-####.

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My daughter has suffered from headaches all of her life. After seeing a wonderful pediatric neurologist he found the root cause of it. It was a serious medical problem that could have actaully in time killed her. So, not to scare you silly, change primary....there is a reason... a child would not make it up and I'm sorry would doctor's in general quit blaming stress on everything that is not text book or they just don't know...my daughter is now 15 and is healthy and happy, due to a wonderful neurologist that gave her back to us. Hope this helps. Kids don't come with instruction books and each are different. She is an individual, unlike anyone else, dig further, she isn't lying, she knows she hurts and if they won't listen to her, get her help somewhere else. You have no idea how many I went through. They blamed it on everything. It was none of that she had Celiac Disease and her diet had to be changed but left untreated she would have actaully died. She was getting the headaches from not absorbing nutrients needed for brain activity and her brain and muscles were effected. She did not have typical signs of Celiac and had gone undiagnoised for almost 10 years. So hang in there. But get another opinion....every doctor has one...isn't that why we truly pay them for? You've paid this one for a lousy one...find another is where I'd start and a neurologist is the best one to determine any headache. Rao is the one I used. I have to warn you he doesn't like quick fixes. He wants to find out why they are having headaches to treat the root of the problem, so have patience or have you primary give you a referral if you need one, he'll take over. He saved my daughter. But above all I'm not saying she has what my daughter has....but you need a neurologist. Also I am in the medical field and believe me it is just an opinion. I rose above that Oh it is just stress or it is this, when you gut says different a long time ago. Find answers demand other doctors, don't settle, they look to you to protect them. Good luck!

Wow! I came on here to not only recommend going to a chiropractor, but also to Dr. Pierce! I highly recommend this group. They are wonderful. I was in a car accident in Feb. and they are treating me. I've learned SOOOOOO much about the body. I was amazed at the kinds of things that can go wrong with the body when you're out of allignment.

One thing they have taught me is that regular doctors tend to treat the symptom instead of getting to the root of the problem. WHen I was in my car accident I was given pain killers, muscle relaxers, and something for muscle spasms. Of course it didn't get better. Now I'm completely off the medicines and we're treating the problem.

So before doing anything else, I'd see if they can help you daughter.

I would certainly recommended following the doctor's suggestion and getting an MRI, but I wouldn't rule out stress either. My husband had severe migraines for several years as a young child, I believe starting around the age of 5. They were so bad, that he would often throw up and have to be pulled out of school. His parents took him to every specialist they could find, did MRIs, allergy tests, chiropractors, etc. Finally (years later) they took him to a psychiatrist who helped him learn how to relax, and the headaches went away.

His parents had gotten divorced, and his mom had remarried, when he was 4 yrs old. Young kids can definitely carry a lot of stress.

Dear Rae,

As mothers, we're always worried! I recommend you take your daughter to Tampa Neurology Associates. A friend of mine took her son there for headaches, etc. She saw Dr. Ferrera & was very pleased. You could drive yourself crazy searching for answers on the internet. Give yourself some peace of mind & let the professionals diagnose the source of her headaches. You're a very good mommy to pay attention to your daughter's needs! No child should have to suffer with headaches at such a young age. She'll have enough of those when she becomes a mom herself! Good luck to you both!

Have you ever thought of taking her to a chiropractor? As kids, think about all the jumping, twisting, awkward sleeping positions, etc. All of my kids get adjusted, and do great with it. I know a SUPER family chiro up in the New Tampa area if you are interested.

Good Luck

i have a 5 year who haheadaches every time he starts to get sick,having a headache once or twice a week


i have a 5 year who haheadaches every time he starts to get sick,having a headache once or twice a week

My 4 year old daughter has complained periodically about her head hurting on the back of her head too. I have determined that it only bothers her in her car seat, so I think it's neck related. It's only periodic and I personally prefer not to doing too much conventional medicine unless necessary, so I haven't had it examined more yet. In fact, she hasn't complained about it in probably 4 or 5 months so maybe it has resolved itself!
Good luck! Trust your instincts and do what you feel comfortable with having tested.

My son is 10 and has had headaches and migraines since he was four. He does not typically have them in the back of his head, it is usually the front. If she is leading into what my son has experienced I could give you advice ahead of time that I wish I had known to help him. He had multiple tests done, MRI, CT, EEG, etc. to see what was going on and it was finally diagnosed as migraines and cluster headaches. I took him to a bio feedback clinic for help and the key is protein in the morning. The bio feedback clinic will also teach the child how to relax themselves and work through the headache. If you get upset and cry it will make the headache worse. I went to the clinic at Tampa General and it was wonderful. If your child eats sugar for breakfast she will have a rise in her blood sugar and then crash which will cause a headache. I have worked with the school and he eats a protein bar everyday around 9am and he eats eggs in the morning at home. Also I make sure he does not have a lot of sugar in his diet and no sugar past 7pm. It has significantly helped decrease his headaches. He was also having night terrors and with the elimination of sugar in the evening they have stopped. You can also keep a log of what she eats and see review what she ate on the day she had a headache and see if there is a trend. We found that he was allergic to bananas and everytime he ate one he would get a headache or a migraine. It really is not an easy issue to manage and it is very tough on the child. My son often feels that he is not "normal" because none of his friends experience this. One of the other issues we had was his vision. I had taken him to an Optometrist instead of an Opthamoligist and that was a mistake. He was in the wrong prescription and it was so off that they had to change his lenses in two steps because it would have been too drastic to change in one. This was a lengthy response but I feel what you are going through and thought maybe some of our experiences would help you out. I have really learned a lot over the last several years.

I know many people are scared of Chiropractors, and I used to be too, but after suffering with headaches/migranes for a year I tried one, and was amazed to feel better immediately. I take my daughters for adjustments regularly and they feel better after adjustments. I have taken them since they were 6 months old. My eldest daughter rides horses, and of course has taken her share of falls. The chiropracter has said being out of adjustment pinches the nerves in her neck causing a head ache. They stopped after being adjusted. Don't be scared of chiropractors with children, I used to be, but now swear by them. You must try this yourself personally and make the best decision for your daughter. A good chiropractor should take xrays at the initial exam and discuss the treatment with you before giving your daughter her first adjustment.

Try Dr. Robinson at Brooksville Chiropractic ...he's wonderful...his number is ###-###-####.

I know you think you have this resolved, but I would encourage you to at least let her have an exam to check if her neck is out of alignment.

I would highly suggest a chiropractor. I don't know where you live, but there a few I could recommend in Tampa. The one I use and love is Dr. Maddock and his number ###-###-####.

I would be concerned. It doesn't seem normal for a 5 year old to have headaches for this long of period. Have you considered a chiropractor? My 22mnth old and 4 1/2 yr old go often. It's amazing what they can fix. Try calling Dr. Stan Pierce ###-###-#### He is super with kids!! He practices Atlas Chiropractic which does not involve the cracking of the back and neck as they have done in the past. You may also want to check and she if she is grinding her teeth at night. I use to get head aches every day and did not realize it was because I was grinding my teeth at night. A dentist noticed my teeth and suggested a night guard. NO MORE HEADACHES! Two things to look into that don't require tests or medication! Good Luck!1

i experienced what you describe when i was young. i have migraines now. also it can very well be stress - even in one so young. school is a new experience and can be very stressing. talk to you daughter to see if anything is bothering her. maybe she is having problems with other kids and she doesn't know how to handle the problems so they are causing her headaches.

we seriously under-estimate our children when we talk about stress. they experience it too - but as a rule, they don't have the vocabulary to express the problems.

Hello, TMJ could be a cause. I would look into a night guard. Keep in mind, this can be a difficult process to fit. If the night guard is off slightly, it may make things worse. Find a dentist that specializes in children/TMJ/grindinding/clenching. Chiropractic might also be an alternative. Western medicine moves too quickly to medicate the issue rather than finding the core reason for the issue.The MRI would relieve your fears but can be scary for your child. I would look into an open MRI and explain exactly what is going to occur during the test to my child.
Try not to stress yourself out too much. I am sure she will be fine.

I just signed on and haven't had time to check the responses but in addition to getting and MRI (you can never be too sure about anything) I would suggest taking her results (of the MRI) to a chiropractor in your area. If you are close enough, try Sage Campione in Brandon - she actually treated athletes from the Olympics... She's wonderful, sees children, and there are some spinal offsets that can cause even children to have problems like headaches and such. I never saw a chiro until I threw out my back completely at age 34. I was in TX and although my neck had froze and I'd had severe back problems it took my having to cancel a very important mother son reteat for my son (due to my back) before I actually saw a chiropractor. The one I saw (not Dr. Campione) was in another state than I now live in but he was wonderful and in fact, helped me more than I ever new was possible!!! I have since moved to FLA and have began seeing Dr. Campione and she has done wonders for me. She is wonderful and at the very least, I suggest (especially, if your insurance allows payment for it) that you have her review your findings. She may be able to help addionally. All I can say is so many PCP have said take this pain med, take this muscle relaxer but hey, do you want your CHILD to take this stuff? Try her out. You might be surprised...

PS. I am taking (natural) vitamin supplements that have been very effective (in additional to chiro treatments). The muscle personnel in her office (Lily + the massage therapists) are wonderful. At least try a consulation - which is free if you go to her webiste (do a search on sage campione; brandon, fl)... Good luck!!! I wish the best for you and your child. God Bless!

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