Between homework, after school activities, sports and hormones, it isn’t too hard to see that a teenage might get a headache every once in a while. According to the American Family Physician, frequency of headaches increases as children start to grow. 37% to 51% of children who are at least 7 years old report “frequent” headaches and that number grows to 57% to 82% by age 15. Before puberty hits, boys tend to experience more headaches than girls, but that switches after the onset of puberty.
Cause: In many cases, it seems that hormones are the culprit for teenage headaches. This is the age around when migraines typically begin. Estrogen, the main hormone found in women, could be the cause for why these severe headaches are found more often in girls. Estrogen levels increase during puberty, causing migraines to become more frequent in girls.
Treatment: Depending on the type of headache, there are a few ways to treat it. If your teen is having a headache due to stress, have him and her try some relaxation techniques, like deep breathing exercises or taking an over-the-counter pain medication. If he or she is suffering from a migraine, consult with a doctor to see if medication is required. Have him or her lie down in a quiet, dark room until the migraine has passed.
Prevention: There are many factors to consider when determining what is triggering your teens headache or migraine. Certain foods can be a trigger for a migraine, such as nuts or chocolate. Birth control pills are also associated with migraines, which can be an issue with girls who have reached puberty. Other known triggers for teenagers include overtiredness, having gone too long without eating, stress, anxiety and excessive physical activity. Knowing what your teenagers’ triggers are and making sure they too are aware of them will help both of you avoid doing or eating anything that might trigger a headache.
Headaches are an unfortunate, but normal part of going through puberty. However, if you start to notice that your teenager is experiencing them more frequently or if the pain worsens, have your teenager speak with a doctor to get the help they need to prevent these headaches or migraines.