Going back to school can be a literal headache


By Stephanie Carson

Special to The SUN

Going back to school after summer break can be a literal headache for some Colorado children.

Dr. Nick DeBlasio, a pediatrician with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, says about 10 percent of school-aged children and more than 15 percent of teens experience periodic headaches. He says dehydration is one of the most common causes of those headaches, especially as the weather is still hot, kids are active and it isn’t as handy to get a drink of water at school as it is at home.

He notes, however, another cause of headaches is a lack of sleep.

“During the summer, everything’s a little bit more carefree and bedtimes tend to be a little later,” says DeBlasio. “Then, boom. All of the sudden you’re getting up early to go to school.”

Skipping meals can also be a trigger. DeBlasio suggests relieving a child’s headache pain with water or an electrolyte drink and over-the-counter ibuprofen. He says maintaining a regular eating and sleeping schedule and keeping children well-hydrated can prevent headaches.

For some children, it may also be the sign of a vision problem.

“Typically that tends to be the kid who will say, ‘The board is a little bit blurry’ or ‘I’m straining to see the board,’” says DeBlasio.

He says most headaches in children are not a cause for alarm, but there are a few instances that signal the need for additional investigation.

“If you notice weird symptoms like waking up in the middle of the night with headaches, vomiting due to the headaches, headaches that get better immediately after vomiting or an increase in frequency of headaches,” DeBlasio cautions, “that’s definitely something to talk to your pediatrician about.”