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« Any other itchy and scratchy gym-barbies? | Main | An action plan always makes me feel better »

15 January 2010



My older boy also had loads of headaches at one stage. It got so bad that he used to vomit when it got too severe. We were super paranoid and interestingly enough, we did not even consider tumours. We immediately thought that it might be the Ritalin that he's currently on. He does have a permanently runny nose and is always blocked up so we went to the paed who suggested we start with allergy testing before going any further. Allergy tests revealed what we needed them to reveal. We made some changes to accomodate the allergies and use stuff to dry up the snots and it's much better now. Hasn't happened in a good couple of months now. When it happened recently it was because it was really hot outside and he was not drinking enough water. I would say first do eye testing and then allergy testing before you go any further.


Oh my poor parents had the nightmares you are having, and it was all fine. So take a deep breath.

I suffered and still do suffer from headaches. I get migraines, although funnily enough, pregnancy seemed to make them better. Now my migraines are very rare - but in my tweens/ teens it was awful. I do live with headaches as a part of life. Only medicating when absolutely necessary. But you learn tricks and ways to avoid them.

Remember - it is very rare that it is the dreaded thing. But your heart will ease once it is ruled out. However, a good neurologist is so important, regardless.

I had a neurologist as a child. I had the scan, and as I said above, all fine. After that you do things like keep a headache diary to start helping solve the trigger factors. Time of day, sleep patterns, what foods she is eating, allergies, stress, iron levels, B levels - these all can can play a part. Hormones - puberty - can also play havoc with a girl. Getting eyes checked is a very good idea!

A good neurologist will look into these things as well as medications: both the kind that can help prevent, and the kind you take for the type of headache. For example: I have a sliding scale to follow which according to the rank, depends on what I reach for if reaching for something IS possible. Certain vitamins can work wonders for some people if it is low iron or B. Chocolate is sadly a very common culprit. But don't deny her till you know. :-)

There are so many variables that a lot of working with a neurologist is trail by error. A process of learning what works, what doesn't, and what is really behind those suckers.

Also - remember to consider rebound headaches. If you are giving her the same type of medication each time she has a headache her body will begin to create a headache to get it. A good doctor should be able to help you avoid this. It is often what makes a child's occasional headaches become constant.


Caitlin was battling with headaches and we got them sorted out with reading glasses (Bev was awesome !!!!!)

Hope you come right - atleast the most scary thing has been ruled out


I suffered with headaches from a young age and finally some 30 years later, food was diagnosed as the issue.. artificial sweeteners and wheat.. has made a major difference to quality of life.. I hope you find the cause soon..


What about an osteopath? Worked well for my daughter but NOT headache realated! How agonising! Poor little heart! xxx


I had terrible headaches starting around that age. I finally managed to cure them by cutting my salt intake and eating much more protein. I was severely protein deprived. Almost totally cured me.


Besides getting an eye exam, have a dentist check for evidence that she is grinding her teeth at night. If she is grinding her teeth, a mouthguard helps immensely.


Currently in Spain some doctors are finding that most cases of migraines and persistent headaches that begin in childhood are related to histamine levels caused by food... even if there is not allergies involved ( I mean, even if the levels of reaction to foods are not so big to be considered an allergy, there is some intolerance that causes excess histamine levels). Headaches, watery eyes and some other symptoms can be commom. I think testing for sensitivity to some foods ( more commom are milk, wheat, tomato..)can be useful. I Hope you find whatever the cause soon, poor kiddo!


I don't have any advice for children suffering from headaches but I know that my Mom gets them from certain foods - she says chocolate and Pringles (potato chips) are the main cause. Maybe the allergy tests will help her.

Glad to hear the scan was clear.


Came over from Tertia's blog. I had terrible migraines as a child. It took them until I was 6 before they figured it out. I had TONS of food allergies and environmental allergies. I would guess food allergies since your daughter has the headaches but not the runny nose. Good luck and most likely it is something easy to deal with, like avoiding certain foods.

Just pray it's not soybeans or wheat as they are in EVERYTHING!


Came from Tertia's blog. my daughter has been getting them for about 6 months - our dentist says it is from her 6 year molars coming in, and her grinding her teeth.


Hi Mel.

In my family all women suffer from full-fledged migraine attacks from an early age in addition to a lot of headaches, so nobody freaked out much when I started with headaches as a child, although I think I was at least 9-10yrs old. In high-school they were so bad I would always keep some codein with me. If hormone-linked, headaches would get worse getting closer to puberty, and they may eventually (when old enough) get better taking the pill. As many readers testify, chocolate can sometimes trigger headaches, and so can a low blood-sugar level, stress, dehydration, fatigue. Pregnancy was a miracle cure for my migraines, although I still get pretty bad headaches at the end of my menstrual cycle (although not migraine attacks), and they are always worse in the morning. Sinus issues always add up to these things. Things that help a lot when I get morning headaches: immediately getting from a lying down to a sitting or reclined position, i.e., putting the head up. And also drinking a lot of water as soon as I am awake. I always keep water on my nightstand, and if I wake up at night I drink a glass. Drinking more water is really a good cure, side-effect free : ) as is eating a small snack every now and then to keep the sugar level up. If sinuses are a bit clogged, saline irrigations of the nose are very good. Very best wishes.


My 4 year old has been having headaches for 6+ months now. We thought it was sinus issues, but after she had her tonsils and adenoids out she has been clear of sinus problems and the headaches persist. We went to a pediatric neurologift and he put her on a migraine diet. We tried that for a month and it didn't make a bit of difference. Her biggest trigger seems to be lack of sleep. Our next step is to go for an MRI to be sure she doesn't have something awful. As long as that is clear we are going to try a medication called periactin.


PS I would see an eye doctor for sure. But if she does not have a vision problem I doubt TV would be the cause, especially considering she gets headaches in the morning waking up
PPS your girl is lovely


I would suggest removing gluten from her diet for a few weeks and see if that helps.


I also had headaches from a very early age which turned out to be migraines once I went into my teens. Very difficult to pinpoint the cause. Hormones typically play a role but your LO looks a bit young for that (that is also why there is often a change in migraine behaviour once you fall pregnant). I see the teeth grinding has been mentioned - very important to rule that out. She won't know if she grinds her teeth but you may hear it and a dentist can pick it up easily as there is typically damage on the teeth. Food allergies, yeah... but more something for headaches not migraines, and my suspicion is that if you can see the pain in her and it is so severe, it is perhaps linked to migraines rather. Good to rule out food allergies, I don't trust that it will solve it (perhaps just minimise their regularity). Yes, there are the so called "trigger foods" but I have found that they just play a secondary role. Even leaving them all out of your diet won't stop a migraine that wants to start.

I think it is good for her to tune into her head pain and the moment she feels it, to take whatever meds the doc prescribes - earlier is much better. E.g. make sure she definitely does not feel it coming on when she goes to bed, often waking up with the head pain is just a reminder of something you were faintly aware of the night before.

I think the reason why my parents were more chilled about this were because my dad suffered severely from migraines and it was just a case of, oh, ok, she's got it too! But I think it's awesome that you managed to get a CAT scan in, in case there was a more obvious reason. Frustratingly, there is much room for improvement on researching these things. And the meds are not great - I now try and get by with codeine only but it does mean coping with a certain amount of pain still and having to take off lots of time from work, lying in a dark room. It's not nice, but at least she's not alone, if it does turn out to be migraines.

All the best. We all have our crosses. :) (Oh, and I'm also very sensitive - I suspect it is linked: bright lights, random loud noises etc: try and link up with that Lombard lady's sessions that Tertia has also attended, it will be helpful for your daughter to start being tuned into her environment and avoid situations which could upset the sensitive equilibrium!)


Sounds like everything I would suggest has been mentioned. My nephew had headaches, which turned out to be allergies - he had none of the usual symptoms (no sneezing, no runny nose, no rashes). Also, vision testing could be useful. My husband gets migraines from just about anything - stress, lack of sleep, inadequate protein or water in his diet. I guess I would start with making sure she's hydrated, and then see an allergist and eye doctor. Good luck - headaches are so miserable.


hmmm. looks like most everything has been said. i would guess allergies myself, perhaps food allergies (or food additives) to be more specific. as a therapy i would recommend trying Reiki or Accupuncture before going the drug route.
good luck with everything!


That must be such a concern. I just wanted to say you should also consult a dentist. Lots of headaches come from teeth and jaw problems. And try different/more/fewer pillows. Also synthetic/hypo allergenic pillow. Hope it gets sorted soon!


As I said - a chiropractor sorted out Mike's headaches at about the same age as Becks. Stress re starting a new school, growth, weakish muscle tone, etc all contributed to strained muscles and some pinched nerves. After about 4 sessions they stopped completely. Eyes are also a good thing to check, but it would be odd if they were causing pain whilst closed and asleep. Will pray for wisdom from the docs, the correct diagnosis and the right treatment for my beautiful Becks. xx

Juliette Somerford

I cry just reading about this..for the terror and fear you have gone through...I am so sorry!! I have a twin sister who used to suffer migraines when she was a was just horrid to see. Back then (we are now 43) there weren't all the tests etc available nowadays..however it was discovered that she had some alignment issue with her neck and back. Interestingly enough Mum said when my sister was a baby she couldn't hold her head up for ages and ages and Mum was terrified there was something wrong with her...eventually that sorted itself out but it seems that as my sister grew it played up again. Her migraines began at age 7.

I think a chiro would be able to help? Another sister now has glasses....perhaps she needs glasses? I truly hope you find a resolution.....the poor darling child. Good Luck. xxxx

Bethany, a fellow happy clapper (from Tertia's site)

Children definitely get migraines.

The "triptan" class of medications are marvelous for migraines!! Are they available over there (I'm in the U.S.)? Examples are Imitrex, Relpax, Zomig, Maxalt. It's so easy to try one once or twice to see if it works for DD. The earlier you take it when you feel the headache coming on, the better (Keep this in mind!) although when she wakes up with one, that makes it tough.

As far as diagnosing a migraine versus a regular headache:
1) Is she sensitive to light or sound when she's having a headache?
2) Does the pain get worse when she moves?

If the answer to either of the above questions is "yes", she likely gets migraines versus a regular headache. A final question:

3) Do aspirin/ibuprofen work well for her headache pain?

If the answer is "no", she could likely be getting migraines and need a triptan instead of an over the counter medication. Headaches generally respond well to aspirin/ibuprofen whereas migraines do not.

I'm wondering if the waking up with a headache/migraine is coming from too much or too little sleep. Both are common triggers for migraines. If I didn't get enough sleep...bam! migraine! Same thing for some people if they "sleep in" one morning (on the weekend, for example) instead of following their normal routine (= too much sleep).

Your plan for getting her eyes checked is a great idea as well. Rebeka might not even realize her vision is poor/getting worse (I remember this vividly when I got glasses for the first time in 7th grade...i.e., "Wow, that's so much better. I had no idea I was seeing so poorly!"), but it could be affecting her body. Finally, is there anything she can think of that she can connect to the headaches? You might not realize something she's doing that could be causing them, for example? A little brainstorming on her end might bring something you hadn't thought of to light.

I'm so sorry you have this concern in your life. Definitely one of those "I wish I were having this pain instead of having to see my child suffer through this" type of situation :( Keep us posted and best wishes!


I had hardly had a headache at all in my life until last summer. I blamed them on various different things until I finally decided to visit an Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor (I was also having ear pressure and pain). He took one look up my nose and said that he thought that I had allergies that were causing my problems. I didn't have a runny nose or anything like that, but he said that the tissue inside of my nose was swollen. He prescribed a nasal steroid and zyrtec...and knock on wood, as long as I stick to my medicine routine, no more headaches.


I have no experience with headaches in children, but when you mentioned that she often wakes up with headaches, it struck a chord with me. I wake up with headaches on occasion and, for me, it comes from grinding my teeth while I'm sleeping.


A lot of people here have posted tons of really great triggers. Foods, hormones, neck/spine/jaw problems, eye problems. Too little/too much sleep. Drug sensitivities. Emotional problems/stress/fear.

Like I said up there, I've had headaches all my life. Chronic, daily, really bad ones. My parents were not good at helping me to find my triggers, so it took me until adulthood to develop the self awareness to do it on my own. Hopefully you'll be able to help your daughter better then that.

My major triggers turned out to be protein and salt. I was drastically deprived of protein due to poor eating habits, and I just like salt. My minor triggers include low iron levels, low blood sugar, and too much sleep.

The too much sleep really became obvious the older I got, and the less inclined I was to sleep in really late. When I do, headache.

The low blood sugar one was much harder. I eventually cured that problem by realizing that I was going to have to stop waiting for socially acceptable times to eat. I was going crazy waiting to meet friends over dinner, waiting until a 1pm lunch meeting to eat lunch, waiting until we could go out to brunch for a weekend breakfast. My body wanted and needed to eat smaller meals more frequently then three times a day. Now, I eat exactly when I need to, and my friends/coworkers/husband are understanding if that means that I don't eat when they do. That can be a much harder problem for a child with a family meal time, but I know that for me, it was a huge improvement in quality of life.

If I were in your shoes, I would find a big list of every known headache trigger, and just start trying to work through them. Environmental, food based, drug/supplement based, physical, emotion, schedule based. Probably 1000 more. It might take a lot of work, but once you get those triggers figured out, it's just management. Which, in my experience, is a lot better and more effective then just blasting them with drugs.

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