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Headache, Muscle Tension: Brief Version

What is a muscle tension headache?

When your child has a headache he will say his head hurts. The muscles around his head will feel tight. Muscle tension headaches can be caused by using video games or computers too long. Stress can also cause these headaches.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Have your child lie down and rest until he is feeling better. Getting enough sleep helps.
  • Give ibuprofen or acetaminophen as soon as the headache starts. No aspirin.
  • Put a cold washcloth on his forehead.
  • Maybe something is bothering your child. Help him talk about it.
  • Give your child a neck massage.
  • Make sure your child does not skip meals.
  • Teach your child to take breaks during activities that take a lot of concentration.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • The headache is severe and doesn't go away.
  • Your child has a hard time seeing, talking, walking, or thinking.
  • Your child's neck is stiff.
  • Your child acts very sick.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child often has headaches.
  • You think something else is causing the headache (like blocked sinuses).
  • The headache has lasted more than 24 hours even though your child took pain medicine.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-22
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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