Q: My 11-year-old son has started complaining of headaches. Should I be concerned, and what should I give him for them?

A lot of pediatric patients have headaches. The vast majority of headaches are nothing to worry about. But if your child’s headaches are frequent or severe, it’s best to have him evaluated by your pediatrician.

Here are some possible causes of occasional headaches:

Inadequate Hydration

One of the big reasons for headaches is inadequate hydration – not taking in enough liquids. This is especially true as the weather gets warmer and kids become more active outside and lose liquids through sweating. If your child has become more active and begins to complain of headaches, the cure might be as simple as having him drink more water.

Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure can cause headaches.

Vision Problems

Your child might be getting headaches from straining to see the board at the front of the classroom.

Family History

Do you have a family history of headaches? Many times, if a parent gets headaches, a child might as well.


Does your child eat a healthy diet (plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and breakfast each morning) and get exercise? Does he drink a lot of caffeinated sodas or other beverages? Certain foods and caffeine can trigger headaches.

Lack of sleep can cause headaches. Kids in middle and high school typically need at least 10 to 12 hours a night. Fewer than 10 hours of sleep each night is not really enough for kids of that age.

Is your child under a lot of stress or pressure at school? Have things changed at home recently, such as a divorce or a move or other big changes in your life?

The Headache Center at Cincinnati Children's expertly diagnoses and treats a variety of headache disorders, including migraine and tension headaches.