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Ohio Expert: School Can Be a Real Headache for Some Kids

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PHOTO: An Ohio doctor says going back to school can cause headaches for some children, with an estimated 10 percent of school-aged children experiencing them periodically. Photo credit: stockarch/morguefile.
PHOTO: An Ohio doctor says going back to school can cause headaches for some children, with an estimated 10 percent of school-aged children experiencing them periodically. Photo credit: stockarch/morguefile.
August 11, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Going back to school after summer break can quite literally be a headache for some Ohio children.

Dr. Nick DeBlasio, a pediatrician at 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. As it's still hot outside, children are active, and it isn't as handy to get a drink of water at school as it is at home.

He adds another cause is lack of shut-eye.

"During the summer, everything's a little bit more carefree and bedtimes tend to be a little bit later and then boom – all of a sudden, you're getting up early to go to school,” he explains. “And so, a lot of kids really have decreased sleep, especially the first few weeks of the school year."

Skipping meals can also be a trigger.

DeBlasio suggests relieving a child's 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.

DeBlasio adds the stress of new classes, teachers, and schedules can cause headaches as well. And for some children, it may be a sign of a vision problem.

"Typically that tends to be the kid who will say that, you know, 'The board is a little bit blurry, I'm straining a little bit to see the board,'” he points out. “That comes to light more in the beginning of the school year, when the kids are suddenly more in a structured environment."

DeBlasio says most headaches in children are not a cause for alarm, however there are a few instances that signal the need for a little more investigation.

"If you notice any of these weird symptoms – waking up in the middle of the night with headaches, vomiting due to the headaches, headaches that are getting better, like immediately after you vomit, or an increase in frequency of headaches – that's definitely something to talk to your pediatrician about," he says.

DeBlasio adds it's important to note that ibuprofen should not be taken more than three times a week. Greater frequency may cause rebound headaches.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH