A number of factors can cause a child to develop a headache, such as stress, lack of sleep, skipped meals and certain medications. Other times a child may suffer from a headache due to a common illness or infection, such as a cold or flu. And in serious cases, head trauma or an underlying condition such as meningitis could be causing the child’s headache. That’s why it’s important for parents to pay close attention to their child’s headache patterns.
Although it’s easy for parents to worry, most headaches in children are rarely a sign of something serious. However, parents should contact their child’s pediatrician if the child has unexplained or recurring headaches over a short period of time or on a regular basis.
Parents should also notify their pediatrician if the child’s headache is accompanied by one or any combination of these symptoms:
- Double vision, weakness in a limb or loss of balance
- Disabling pain that does not improve with over-the-counter pain medication
- Interrupted sleep
- Decreased level of alertness
- Change in personality
To help pinpoint the causes of your child’s headaches, parents should keep a diary of their child’s symptoms. Track when headaches occur, how long they last, the severity of the headache and if anything provides relief. Over time, your notes can help you and your pediatrician understand the child’s symptoms to reach a diagnosis and proper treatment plan.
Your child’s pediatrician may also ask you a series of questions to determine the source of your child’s headaches:
- Do the headaches follow a pattern or do they change over time?
- Has your child recently suffered a serious injury?
- What seems to help or worsen headaches?
- Does your child take any medications or have any past medical issues?
- Does your child have allergies?
- Is there a history of headaches in your family?
In many cases, a child’s headache may be relieved at home with simple care. Over-the-counter pain medications, rest and avoiding those triggers that prompt headaches may be enough to ease the pain.
Remember, headaches are not always a symptom of something more serious. However, parents should be mindful of the types of headaches their child has and how frequently they occur. If you suspect something is wrong or not normal, always contact your pediatrician for an appointment.
If your child has ever complained of not being able to sleep at night due to leg pain, he or she may be experiencing what many people refer to as growing pains. They are common for kids during their growth and development years.
Growing pains are often characterized by a sharp, throbbing pain in the leg muscles, usually occurring during the night and sometimes late afternoon without an apparent cause. While there is no evidence that a child's growth is painful, these pains often occur during an active day of running, jumping or swimming.
Whenever a child is afflicted by episodes of recurrent leg pain, it is always best to have them evaluated. Other more serious foot and leg conditions should be ruled out before a diagnosis of growing pains is made.
Consult with a physician or a podiatrist if aching legs are a chronic complaint, or if the pain is so severe it interferes with the child's daily activities. Persistent pain and other unusual symptoms may indicate a more serious problem. The following symptoms are not due to growing pains and should be evaluated by a doctor:
- Persistent pain
- Swelling or redness in one specific area or joint
- Loss of Appetite
- Abnormal behavior
There are no treatments or medications available for growing pains, but parents can help ease the pain with simple home remedies.
- Massage and rub the child's ache until the pain passes
- Stretch your child's legs throughout the day and before bed
- Heating pads or warm baths can help soothe sore muscles
- Over-the-counter pain relievers (always consult with physician first)
While growing pains are commonly seen in young children during the growth and development years, lower extremity pain can also be caused by mechanical misalignments and structural imperfections. A thorough evaluation is crucial in order to determine the exact cause of your child's leg pain. If growing pains are the cause of your child's discomfort, rest assured that the pain is only temporary and will pass with time.
It may seem like your teenager is ignoring you, but in reality, they may be having trouble hearing you. More and more we see kids listening to their MP3 players while doing homework, walking to school or riding in the car. The result? A surge in hearing loss.
For years, studies have shown that constant exposure to loud sound damages hearing. In fact, between the mid-1990s and 2006 there was a 31 percent increase in the prevalence of hearing problems among U.S. adolescents, according to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers suggest that one in every five teens today has some sort of hearing impairment.
Chronic exposure to loud noise may not cause hearing loss in the short term, but it can gradually result in irreversible hearing loss later in adult years. Even slight hearing loss can have a negative impact on a child’s academic success and social interaction. Warning signs of potential hearing loss include: difficulty following directions, asking that things be repeated, trouble with speech and language and listening to the TV at a high volume.
With the prevalence of music devices only gaining popularity, parents need to be particularly aware of their kids’ music-listening habits and educate them about the dangers of excessive noise.
To mitigate hearing loss, talk to your kids about how to use their music players properly to protect their ears from hearing damage.
- Teach kids to never play their music devices at full volume.
- Monitor your child’s music volume and frequency.
- If you can hear the music from the child’s ear buds, then the music is too loud.
- Explain to your child the importance of wearing ear protection when they are in an environment with loud noises for long periods of time, such as concerts.
The difficult truth about hearing loss is that in many cases it is not reversible, and it can even be progressive over time. Talk to your kids about the dangers of hearing loss now, and keep the volume and length of their listening to a minimum.
Whenever you have questions about your child’s hearing, talk to your pediatrician.
A baby’s soft, smooth skin is delicate, making it susceptible to diaper rash, a common and mild irritation of the skin that causes redness in the area where the diaper is worn. Most cases of diaper rash are caused by excessive moisture from leaving a wet or soiled diaper on for too long. The baby’s skin becomes red, irritated and prone to chafing. Painful sores can develop, and the baby becomes vulnerable to yeast and bacterial infections.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half of babies between 4 months and 15 months of age will experience diaper rash at least one time in a two-month period. Diaper rash is most common between 8 to 10 months of age, or when a baby is introduced to solid foods, which increases the frequency of bowel movements.
Soothing Your Baby’s Diaper Rash
If your baby develops diaper rash, one way to improve its condition is to change his or her diaper frequently. Other helpful ways to treat diaper rash include:
- Rinsing the affected area with warm water and a soft washcloth
- Pat dry; never rub
- Avoid baby wipes that contain alcohol or are fragranced
- Allow your baby’s bottom to air out whenever possible
Preventing Diaper Rash
Parents may not be able to prevent diaper rash completely, but you can do a lot to keep the irritation to a minimum. The American Academy of Pediatric recommends the following steps to keep diaper rash at bay:
- Apply a heavy layer of diaper ointment or cream to your baby’s bottom after every change.
- Leave breathing room in the baby’s diaper, and avoid putting the diapers on too tightly as it will trap moisturize and prevent air circulation.
- Switch diaper brands or use extra absorbent diapers to whisk away moisture and keep skin dry.
- Change the baby’s diaper immediately after it becomes wet—this is the key to preventing diaper rash.
The good news is that preventing and treating a diaper rash is fairly easy, and most breakouts can be resolved in just a few days. Call your pediatrician if the rash won’t go away or doesn’t improve after a few days. You should also bring your child to see his or her pediatrician if the rash is accompanied by blisters, a fever or pain.
Children need physical activity on a regular basis to keep them healthy and strong. It’s unfortunate that many kids today are considered overweight. In fact, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. And in 2008, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
The effects of obesity on a child’s health can be severe. Overweight children are more prone to chronic illnesses as well as a poor self-image during childhood. It's critical that kids are getting the right amount of exercise in order to regulate obesity, promote heart and lung fitness, and prevent other serious illnesses. Adopting healthy habits at a young age can keep kids fit and healthy into adulthood.
So as a parent, how do you find the time to stay active and healthy? And how can you make physical activity fun and enjoyable for your child? To help kids stay fit while having fun, follow these helpful tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Set a good example and embrace a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Children who see a parent making health and fitness a priority will be more inclined to do the same.
- Limit TV time to two hours a day to encourage physical activity elsewhere.
- Keep physical activity fun and enjoyable so that your child wants to participate again and again.
- In combination with an active lifestyle, provide well-balanced meals and promote healthy food choices.
- Talk to grandparents, teachers, and other caretakers about your expectations for fitness so that you can work together to encourage healthy activity when your child is away from home.
- Turn mundane tasks, such as raking leaves, into a fun family activity that involves exercise.
- Learn your child’s interests and suggest team sports, such as soccer as a great way to keep kids active and fit on a regular basis.
Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle for your entire family. Parents can turn exercise into a lifelong habit by making fitness a part of their daily schedule. When your child is interested in physical activity at a young age, exercise and fitness are more likely to become a routine that lasts for years in years.
Questions about fitness or nutrition? Talk to your pediatrician for advice and suggestions for promoting a healthier lifestyle for your family.
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.