48 answers

8 Year Old Boy with Recurring Headaches

I have an 8 year old boy who complains of headaches nearly every day. I usually give him a liquid pain killer which seems to do the trick. My first thought on chasing down a cause is to get his eyes tested. He gets an annual physical each year and his vision has never been a problem but it's the first thing I thought of. What other possibilities should I be pursuing?

Thanks you!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Wow. 57 responses and counting. Thank you all very much for taking the time to respond. I'm convinced now that the headaches are dehydration related. He says he drinks water at school but he also says he gets more headaches on days when he has gym -- when he's really working up a sweat. Also, 2 of the days he complained of headaches he had actually banged his head while playing B-ball. This last week he was home with a virus that's going around and I kept him hydrated -- no headaches. I'm getting his eyes checked anyway but I don't think we have anything more serious going on. Thanks again to all.

Featured Answers

Hi P.,

I would consider a chiropractor. When things are out of alignment, they can certainly cause headaches.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful

You have received some really good advise. I would like to
add the name of someone that has really helped my daughter.

Evolution Therapeutics
Holistic Occupational Therapy Services
Specializing in pediatric health and development
Adult health and well-being

Heather Mulcahey MA OTR/L on SW Capital Highway,Portland
Email: ____@____.com
Phone : 503- ###-###-####

A doctor visit and optometrist visit sound like good places to start. I had to start wearing glasses at age 7, and headaches were one of the clues. Best wishes to you!

More Answers

PLEASE insist that his doctor do a CT scan!! My son complained of headaches throughout his childhood years and doctors repeatedly called it growing pains, possible vision problems, attention deficit, etc., etc. They dismissed his problems and sent us home time after time with no resolution. As he grew, he had learning and behavioral problems in school because of the recurring pain, and over time his headaches became so severe he would get physically sick and get dehydrated. When he was 18 he lost vision in his right eye and FINALLY an ER doctor did a CT scan. He had a brain tumor the size of a softball. Doctors said it was not malignant, but had been growing probably since he was a toddler. Surgery was successful, but at 32 years old he still has some problems with balance and processing information.
I don't want to scare you, but a CT scan is such a simple procedure - doesn't hurt and is quick to do. For your own peace of mind, and to rule out a brain tumor that is all-too-common in children, I strongly recommend you make sure by insisting on this test.
Best wishes to you and to your son.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi P.,

I would consider a chiropractor. When things are out of alignment, they can certainly cause headaches.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful

I would definitely get the eyes checked first. I am an optometrist and I see many school aged children who have headaches caused from their eyes. When looking for an eye doctor (either optometrist or ophththalmologist) make sure you look for one that evaluates not only their clarity of vision (20/20, etc.) but also how their eyes function when stressed at school (their focusing system, eye movement skills, and eye teaming ability). Also it is important that the eye doctor dilate their pupils to look at the health of the retina, optic nerve, etc.
If the eye doctor does not find that the eyes are causing the headaches they can point you in the right direction of what to do next.
I hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Hello P.,
how long have these headaches been going on, when did they start? How much water does he drink each day? Dehydration, constipation, environmental toxins, nutritional deficiencies and other factors could be contributing to the headaches. there are too many unknowns to understand what may be "causing" the headaches. You want to find the cause, you're treating symptoms with the medicine which is masking the underlying problem/cause of the headaches. Start with hydration, full hydration formula is: have him drink half his body weight in ounces of clean water,3 to 4 ounces every 20 minutes, when he wakes up ,not while eating, then finish 1 hour before bed. what is his diet like? I can make suggestions if I know more. Are you interested in holistic therapies that deal with the cause and helping him heal or traditional treatment/therapy. Let me know. take care.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter did not have the headaches but some how passed the school eye exams but really has bad eyes. she also managed to pass the eye chart test at the eye doctor office. When they dialated her eyes and did the full exam she definately needs glasses So I would definately get them check to rule it out.

1 mom found this helpful

I would take him to the pediatrician first and if they don't find anything I would take him to a naturopath dr to see if it is allergies from food or the additives in the food. My little sister was getting headaches from all the preservatives and dyes in the food when she was younger. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

lololol-- Your husband knows an INCREDIBLE deal when he has one --- FIVE children- from little to nearly adult--- Good grief - and good for you. Regarding your 8 -- ( Oh, they are so sweet and dear and fiesty) - check out allergies-- stress ( is he being bullied or stresssed at school?) - be persistant --and keep your ears tuned. Is he really close to one of the older children?? -- Could you ask one of them to sound him out?? -- If there is a bullying situation that he is ashamed of ( Kids are ashamed about things that they have NOOOOO need to be ) ---he may confide in an older sib-. P.- you are amazing- you'll get to the bottom of it-
You and yours are in my prayers--

Old Mom
aka-- J.

1 mom found this helpful

Having a 7 yo girl who stresses out, my first thought would be stress. Schools are typically loud, chaotic, and frantic. And then he comes home to a full house that can't be quiet. Is he the type that needs more calm? You might address that and see if that changes anything. Is he thinking repetitively about something that is bothering him? Does he have troubling dreams? I have found that dreams can lead me to what I am feeling: scared, insecure, lost, etc. The content or objects of the dream are rarely significant.

A non-sugary diet is very helpful. Several food additives can give kids fits of trouble too. Namely, high fructose corn syrup (also labeled modified corn starch), any dyes, and msg. Try and take these out to see if this has an affect.

Oh lets not forget a big one, dehydration! Many kids, mine included, forget to drink! Especially at school. I remember reading somewhere something like 80% of all headaches are due to inadequate water intake.

I agree that vision, allergies, and chiropractic misalignment might be issues too.

If there is any fever, or stiffness to the neck, call the doc right away.

Oh, Hyllands homeopathic remedies has something for stress for kids. They work with the body to help it cure itself instead of masking the issue. Very gentle and safe. You might try something like that. It eases the biggest up and downs in our house with many issues!

Best of wishes,

1 mom found this helpful

Is he getting enough water? I notice when my kids don't drink enough water they get headaches. Also the eyes is a good thing to check and also mention it to the doctor when you go in next. Where is the headache? frontal, side, back of the head, on top of the head? Does your child have a stuffy nose? Allergies? My daughter especially has gotten headaches also. I make sure she gets her rest and drinks her water. I also notice stress brings them on.

1 mom found this helpful

I used to suffer from dehydration headaches. Is he drinking enough water?

1 mom found this helpful

try taking him to the chiropractor. Kids because they are so active throw their neck and back out more often that you would think. My nine year old boy gets headaches and I found that was the problem.

I'd take him to a chiropractor. My husband is one, and I am a massage therapist. Knowing what we know...that's the fist thing that jumped into my head was just to get him checked out. Medicine is great and all, but really it's just masking the pain.

before going to the doctor or chiropractor, I would try a placebo for the headache, koolaide or flavored water, in the medicine cup. It could also be he likes the medication...but if that doesn't work then take him in and talk with the doctor.

I don't want to scare you but I heard of a young girl once who had headaches like that and it ended up being something bad.

I suffer from headaches myself and have them daily if I do not take meds for them. It's a pain, but thats how it goes.
Other causes I have read up on are, bad eyes, stress, diet, allergies. Good luck to you and your son, I know they are no fun to have.

Computer use? It can be hard on the eyes.

As you can tell from the following responses there are many things that can cause headaches. My son and daughter get them from not drinking enough too. Another suggestion I have is obviously talk to his doctor and have him checked for allergies. Allergies can also cause headaches. I would say start with his pediatrician and go from there. They can do a general eye exam to let you know if it is his eyes.

My daughter had headaches every day when she was 9. I took her in and had her eyes checked. They were fine. I took her to the doctor and she had a sinus infection. It took two rounds of amoxicillin, but she has been headache free ever since. I'd recommend taking him to the doctor.

Hi P.,

I've had headaches all my life, especially as a child. Now I have fibromyalgia plus other issues. This is what I know now: one of the things you should try to rule out is food sensitivities and chemical sensitivities.

Also very important is pain relievers. Pain relievers can give you a rebound headache--so if you give him pain medication one day the very next day he could have another headache (I get those all the time).

Since I never really had a severe allergic reaction most Drs. don't really think about "sensitivities". It took me years to figure this out. For the food you can go on a Rotation Diet (testing is rarely paid for by Insurance at this level). For chemicals you can contact me--I actually help people with these issues.

I dont know for sure. But my doughter was about the same age when she sould have headaches just about everyday. Actually the became migranes. We found out she had allergies. She had to get put on priscribtion medication to get them to stop. thank goodness not all year. We also found out she had a sensitivity to dairy products. When we got her on a new diet and medican for the allergies the migranes whent away. Well i hope this helps you.

Hi P.,

My daughter has suffered from headaches adn they come on out of nowwhere. Usually it's because of lack of fluids and drinking a lot water usually helps. Especially gatorade or anything w/electrolytes so keep that around. They kept persisting though so I took her to the Chiropractor. I don't know where you live but Dr. Cockrell in Sumner is GREAT with kids. My daughter had a bad experience w/her first chiro and she loves this guy. Since going to him she hasn't had headaches. If you are close enough and go to check him out tell them L. Duprie sent you. And if you haev any more questions or hesitations regarding chiropractors don't hesitate to contact me: ____@____.com

Good luck!

Take him to a neurologist, and have some tests done. There may be something going on in there, and it's best to know just what it is. Good Luck

How much water does he drink, a lot of headaches are caused by mild dehydration. Any time my family has a headache the first thing we reach for is a 8 oz glass of water. Pain relievers are hard on the liver and kidneys and most of the time not necessary. It is often the water you take them with that relieves the headache. Does he use a cell phone ever? This can also cause headaches. Children's skulls are much thinner than adults and experts advise not to let anyone under the age of 16 talk or even near a cell phone. Brain tumors have increased 1000% since the explosion of cell phone use and is the leading cause of death of children in Australia. Some people are so sensitive to cell phones they get a headache if anyone within 5 feet has on on. Good luck and good health to you.

Dehydration, maybe? Good luck!

Some things that have helped us:
Drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Allergies -- food &/or environmental

Keep up the good work!

My first thought is water and food allergies. If he eats processed sugar (or caffiene); i would replace it immediatly with fruit and other natural sugars. Make sure he is getting alot of water and have a full blood work up on food allergies AND sensitivities.

Some people (like me and my son) can get irriated by headaches or tummy aches from foods we are sendsitive to such as wheat gluten or dairy. Neither one of us tested positive for these allergies, but thses foods definately make us sick.

If eye sight is normal and headaches are frequent (neurologists consider headaches to be frequent if there are 3-4 or more per month) then it's reasonable to make an appointment with a neurologist. Frequent treatment with over the counter pain medications can take a toll on the body. As you probably know, headaches are fairly common during approaching adolescence and adolescence and can run in families. There are several safe medications that a neurologist can prescribed that will prevent headaches from occurring and will give your child solid relief. Good luck.

Perhaps an MRI. We have been going through some neuro things with our son. Thankfully he is doing fine. They did say that if a child complains of headaches then an MRI would rule out some possible causes of headaches.
Childrens in Seattle does amazing work.
I would check his vision first. then go from there.
Warm regards,

Could be vision. Could be allergies. Could be something a heckuva lot worse than that. You really should take him to the doctor. Headaches are caused by a large array of things.

In the last few weeks, we went to the pediatrician with my 9 YO son having headaches as well. The first question was an eye exam. You should definitely do that since you son is in school. My son's headaches respond to motrin/tylenol so they were not concerned. They suggested more water each day and maybe an extra half hour of sleep each night.

I would get him to the doctor! Better to be safe then sorry. Sometimes it can be caused by something serious and othertimes not so much. I think its better to have a doctor check up on him. Goodluck!

A doctor visit and optometrist visit sound like good places to start. I had to start wearing glasses at age 7, and headaches were one of the clues. Best wishes to you!

Some problems can't be diagnosed in a physical. Reoccurring, persistant headaches could be migraines, a jaw problem, allergies, or something more drastic, such as a brain tumor. Talk with your pediatrician, get a CAT scan or MRI to be certain. I speak from first hand experiences.

I now suffer from migraines, they get worse the older I get.

Some of the things I found that will trigger a good one...

Big Red soda and other foods with certain red dyes.
Riding behind a car with bad exhaust.
Taking too many pain meds (trying to stop the pain), especially with caffeine in them (or coated in red dye).
Florescent lights.
Not drinking water (I'm awful about this!).
Chronic pain from other areas of my body.
Weather changes.
New to this list is hormones (a few days before Aunt Flo arrives, and my last 2 pregnancies).
And the one we're working on now, is all the metal in my mouth from extensive dental work. It's going to be a long, expensive process, but all the metal is coming out of my mouth, the right side is finished, so we don't know if it's going to work yet or not.

These are the few things I can think of at the moment. My head can hurt for weeks at a time. The doctors aren't helpful minus the fact they want me to keep a migraine log, when my head starts to hurt and what I was eating or doing 3 days prior to it starting. Maxxalt and Zomig make me sick to my stomach and don't work unless i take them within 30 minutes of my head starting to hurt.

I hope it's just him needing glasses for his sake. Trying to pinpoint what causes them can be just as painful as the headache, especially if you have a family doctor that just doesn't think it's as serious as it is.

Hopefully there's something in here that someone else didn't mention that could be helpful!

Best of luck!!!!


I just walked through the kitchen and had a thought... I can't use Glade candles, air fresheners, fabric refreshers, or plug-ins or go to anyone's house that uses them. Instant migraine. Some other brands of candles and air fresheners give me just a headache, the only one I found I can tolerate is White Barn Candles (Bath and Body Works) but I still have to watch out for certain scents. Just a thought if you're using these in your home.


There are so many things that can be triggering it. My daughter, now 10, has been on migraine meds for almost a year. We have to track what she eats, drinks...she has other medical problems, so it is hard to tell. I find when she isn't drinking enough water and has too much sugar intake she gets them quicker. It takes a lot of observing, working with your DR, & listening to your child to get it figured out. Definitely have his eyes checked. Your the mom and your instincts are usually spot on.

Make sure he isn't sleeping with his head under the covers. If he is, he may not be getting enough oxygen to his brain and that could cause a headache.

Try having him drink more water and other liquids to hydrate. Headaches are a common symptom of dehydration. Your pediatrician can tell you how much he needs to consume each day.

Another thought is possible allergies like foods or hayfever types. People can develop allergies to dust, mold, etc. and during winter there is less opportunity to clean and air out our houses. These allergens can build up and cause reactions. If he is congested, this may be part of the problem. I used to get headaches when I ate bananas. I found out I have a sensitivity to them so I don't eat them anymore.

I'm also wondering if he has had some type of head trauma. Boys can be pretty rough and you never know. Talk with your pediatrician about this too.

Best wishes to you.

Be careful overdosing the pain killer. Try to not give him the pain killer and see what happens. My 8 year old is the same way. Sometimes she will just go off and play and she's fine, other times she is so bad that she can't function. I ALWAYS wait at least an hour or so before I give her anything. Watch his eyes, does he squint when he watches TV, reads or play on the computer? If so, get to an eye doctor, the tests in the peds office are only part of the real exams (as I'm sure you remember). This is a funny line to draw though cuz headaches can be symptoms of bigger problems.

diabetes? Is he drinking a lot and peeing a lot too? Those can be big indicators.

By all means have him checked out, my sister had to do it for here now 14 yrs old since he was twelve he has complained about headaches she thought he just wanted to stay home but found out it could be the start of that melincouious disease (spelling wrong)
but I am sure you know what I am saying they took test after test to make sure nothing happened. Do have him checked out if not too serious great but why wait to find out what you can cure now. S. Lopez Vancouver, Wa.

I am in Eugene Or. Try neruo-feedback. I am doing right now for adult ADD and I can not tell you how it has helped me. Amazing. It has even gotten rid of some of my headaches. I have 4 kids and the irritability I have felt over the years is now so minimal, it is unbelievable. Instead of the mood lasting hours it is down to minutes. I am not done with the process but I believe in it and it has helped me and my family. My doctor told me he can cure headaches as well. That is why I am telling you all of this. Check it out on the web and learn about it for yourself.
Good Luck.

Try a chiropractor specializing in children or/and a cranial therapist there is a clinic in SE Portland, Hawthorne area.

By all means have his eyes tested, but if that doesn't take care of the headaches, take him to a Ped. and have him examined for migraines.

Yes, children that young can have migraines. I did and I know another that did. You can do some checking at home to see if it could be migraines by putting him in a darkened room to sleep after you give him the pain killer. If it helps he probably has migraines.

But start by checking for glasses first.

Eyes is a good guess about that age! But it could also be many other things - the only safe thing to do is go see the doctor. In the meantime, is he hydrated enough? Drinking enough water? I always try water before resorting to meds for kids and sometimes, because they run around so much, it's that they're not hydrated enough. Sugar can also be involved in such a pattern. So - again, I'd go to the doctor if I were in your shoes and wondering.

T. B.

I agree with the other posted, it would be a good idea to at least call his doctor (or rather the nurse, since that is usually who is available for triage-type calls). Also, a couple of things come to mind in reading your post: has he ever had his eyes tested to make sure that he can see close up? Many quick, Dr.'s office, eye exams are just for distance. My brother couldn't see close up but my parents didn't know that until they took him to the eye-doctor (they suspected there was a problem since he was 9 and struggling with reading); you might consider whether allergies could have anything to do with this, sinus pressure from allergies can be very painful and chronic if the allergies are not being treated. You don't say how long this has been going on, but those are two things that come to mind.

EDIT: after responding I was thinking more about it and another thing came to mind. If these headaches are in the morning when he wakes up it could also be sleep apnea which is really quite common from what I have seen and can certainly lead to feeling pretty crappy when you wake up.

You have received some really good advise. I would like to
add the name of someone that has really helped my daughter.

Evolution Therapeutics
Holistic Occupational Therapy Services
Specializing in pediatric health and development
Adult health and well-being

Heather Mulcahey MA OTR/L on SW Capital Highway,Portland
Email: ____@____.com
Phone : 503- ###-###-####

Would some type of allergy be a possibility? What does your doctor suggest?
S. B

Going to the eye doctor is a great start. I have a headache disorder that is frequently diagnosed by opthalmologists. (I recommend them over optometrists!) They can tell you if there is any damage to the optic nerve, or anything like that, which can tip you off to other problems. If the opthalmolgist doesn't see anything, they may have other recommendations for you.

You might also consider cutting down the liquid pain medication. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes pain medication can actually create what they call "rebound" headaches. If you want to know any more about that, you can message me, or look into it more.

I'm so sorry to hear your child is in pain. It's a very hard situation. Headaches are not easy. The only thing I'm usually grateful for is that it's me, and NOT my child, so my heart goes out to you. ((((((mama)))))

I would give him a multivitamin and make sure he is eating at regular intervals. If he already takes one, then take him to a doctor to be checked out.

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