Headache

Headaches in children are common, they are usually mild and only happen from time to time.

●       There are plenty of things you can do to help your child to feel better such as, making sure they drink plenty of water, take regular exercise and ensure they are sleeping well.

●       Stress can often play a part in children's headaches, especially the older they get.  Make sure you have regular chats about what is going on in their life

●       Sometimes headaches can be a sign of something more worrying.

●       A minor head injury can cause headaches, as can colds or a runny nose.

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If your child has any of the following: 

  • They are very sleepy: difficult to wake up or keep awake
  • They are confused or behaving strangely

  • New, persistent blurring of vision, seeing double, a new squint or unusual eye movements
  • New weakness, loss of balance, co-ordination problems, are holding their head tilted to one side or have difficulty walking
  • Vomiting overnight or persistent daytime vomiting without diarrhoea
  • Breathing very fast or breathing that stops or pauses
  • Working hard to breathe, drawing in of the muscles below the ribs, unable to walk or noisy breathing (grunting)
  • Becomes pale, blue, mottled and/or unusually cold to touch
  • Weak, high-pitched, continuous cry or extremely agitated
  • Has a fit (seizure)
  • Has a rash that does not go away with pressure (the ‘Glass Test')

You need urgent help.

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following:

  • Neck stiffness or pain
  • Discomfort with bright lights
  • A headache waking them from sleep
  • A headache worse on coughing or straining
  • A headache impacting on school attendance
  • Concerns about early or late puberty
  • Needing to use paracetamol or ibuprofen more than 3 days a week for their headache
  • A headache that does not get better after advice or treatment from your doctor or nurse
  • Breathing a bit faster than normal or working a bit harder to breathe
  • Dry skin, lips, tongue or looking pale
  • Not had a wee or wet nappy in last 8 hours
  • Poor feeding in babies (less than half of their usual amount)
  • Irritable (Unable to settle them with toys, TV, food or hugs even after their fever has come down)
  • Temperature of 38°C or above for more than 5 days or shivering with fever (rigors)
  • Getting worse or you are worried about them

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You need to contact your GP practice to arrange a review

Please ring your GP surgery during their opening hours

If none of the above features are present.

  • Watch them closely for any change and look out for any red or amber symptoms
  • If your child has a long term condition or disability and you are worried please contact your regular team or follow any plans that they have given you.

Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, speak to your health visitor, local pharmacist or call NHS 111– dial 111

In school aged children, physical symptoms such as headaches can commonly occur if they are feeling anxious. Click here to learn more about how you can help your child if they are feeling worried.

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How can you help your child's headache?

●        Start a headache diary. Record date, time, triggers, severity and any other associated symptoms.

●        Ensure your child is drinking a plenty of fluid (no caffeine or fizzy drinks)

●        Ensure your child is eating regular meals and doesn’t skip meals.

●        Ensure your child is getting good sleep.

●        Ensure your child is having regular exercise.

●        Consider limiting screen time.

●        Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can be given but less than 3 times a week. Using these more often can make headaches worse.

●        Book your child an eye test with your local optician.

Self Care

For wear and tear, minor trips and everything in between.

Self-care

You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Local Pharmacist

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand - watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health Visitors

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns or to the Community Paediatricians or to the child and adolescent mental health services.

Contact them by phoning your Health Visitor Team or local Children’s Centre.

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

  • Breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating
  • Exercise, hygiene and safety
  • Your child’s growth and development
  • Emotional health and wellbeing, including postnatal depression
  • Safety in the home
  • Stopping smoking
  • Contraception and sexual health
  • Sleep and behaviour management (including temper tantrums!)
  • Toilet training
  • Minor illnesses

For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?

School Nurses

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.

Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GP (General Practitioner)

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.
  2. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about visiting the GP or going to a walk in centre

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

NHS 111

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Accident and Emergency

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance
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