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Headaches and Migraines

If you are concerned about a child or young person suffering from headaches or an acute illness please contact your GP, or call the NHS 111 Helpline.  

Child in park


70% of school children experience a headache at least once a year. Children's headaches can be different to those in adulthood, so adults may fail to recognise that the child has one. NHS Choices offers useful information about headaches in children.

What is the difference between a headache and a migraine?

A migraine is more than just a headache and can include:

  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • Being extra sensitive to light and sound
  • Tummy pain
  •  ‘Aura’ – including visual disturbance, confusion, numbness, or pins and needles

Migraines can easily be overlooked or mistaken for other conditions, or even thought of as just bad behaviour.

The Migraine trust report that;

"Migraine in children and young people can often go undiagnosed and untreated, which can have negative consequences in terms of children and young people’s well-being and educational attainment." 

Migraine triggers

It is often not just one thing that triggers a migraine attack. If potential causes can be identified, it may be possible to reduce the number of attacks by making changes to the child’s lifestyle and diet.

Common triggers of migraines can include:

  • Dehydration - not drinking enough water
  • Stress & anxiety - including exams
  • Certain foods including chocolate, cheese, citrus fruit
  • Puberty & hormonal changes
  • Not eating regularly
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Too much TV/ video games
  • Not enough fresh air
  • Change in weather
  • Flickering lights or reflections in water
  • Exercise without enough food




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Related information

Migraine advice for teens - (The Migraine Trust)

Migraine advice for 7 to 12 year olds - (The Migraine Trust)

Managing migraines - (Migraine Action factsheet)

Migraine diary

Exams and migraine -(Migraine Action factsheet)

Tips for preventing a migraine - (Migraine Action factsheet)

Useful websites

Headaches - (NHS Choices)

Migraine website for children and young people - (Migraine Action)

Migraine Action

The Migraine Trust

Useful information for schools 

Migraine can affect children too - A booklet for teachers - (Migraine Action)

Headaches and migraine School policy guideline