Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

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Choosing a pre-school

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Newborn reflexes

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Mastitis

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Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...

Colic

Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...

Strap-in-the-Future

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Headaches

Approximately 50% of school-aged children and adolescents experience periods when they suffer from unexplained headaches that disappear without requiring treatment. Headaches either occur on their own or, more seriously, with various other symptoms. Seek medical assistance if your child’s headaches are severe, persistent or recurrent, or if she experiences a particular type of headache for the first time. Headaches in children under the age of 4 are generally more worrying than those that occur in the older child (Collins, 2003; Leary, 1990).

 

Some of the possible causes of childhood headache include:

 

Upper Respiratory Infections (URI)

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms accompanying URI such as colds, throat infections and sinusitis. If the headache is severe, worsens over time and your child has a high fever, contact your doctor for an evaluation.

 

Classic migraine headaches

Migraines may be accompanied or preceded by nausea, vomiting, and visual or sensory changes. They are usually one-sided, involve a pulsating or throbbing pain and tend to improve with sleep. Migraines are often found in children who have family members who are also migraine sufferers. They are commonly precipitated by an identifiable trigger such as tension, loud noise, emotional stress, too much sun, tiredness or certain foods.

 

Tension headaches

Mid- and late-afternoon headaches that are usually described as dull and steady, are commonly reported by school-age children. Tension headaches are often a combination of eye strain, pressure after a long day at school, hunger and low blood pressure. They may occur daily and generally do not improve with sleep.

 

Eye strain

Problems with eyesight may produce headaches as a result of eye strain. If you suspect that your child’s vision is problematic, consult an optician for a visual screening test.

 

Meningitis

Meningitis is a serious infection of the central nervous system that requires emergency medical treatment. If your child is generally unwell and has a headache accompanied by 2 or more of the following symptoms, she may have meningitis: drowsiness, stiff neck, fever, vomiting, refusal to drink or poor appetite, irritability, seizures, bulging fontanelle in infants, photophobia or sensitivity to light, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and rashes. Treatment for meningitis is supportive. If the infection is bacterial, antibiotics are prescribed. Viral meningitis requires observation.

 

Concussion

Most children will at some point suffer a bang or knock to the head; these are rarely serious, nor do they have lasting effects. A child with a mild head injury is likely to present with a slight headache, bump or swelling and vomiting. Allow her to rest for 2-3 days. Observation in the first 24 hours is imperative. If she develops any further symptoms, take her to the hospital immediately. More serious head injuries involve brief unconsciousness or concussion, abnormal drowsiness, slurred speech, blurred vision, dizziness, vomiting, irritability, inability to remember what happened before the injury, or fluid or watery blood leaking from the nose or ears. Call an ambulance and check your child’s breathing. Treatment involves stitches if the scalp is cut, an emergency operation in the case of a brain haemorrhage and observation in hospital for at least 24 hours after the injury.

 

Brain disorders

Brain disorders, such as brain tumours, are extremely rare in children. Childhood headaches are not usually an early sign of a brain tumour. Warning signs that a headache may be associated with a brain disorder include headaches that increase in severity and frequency, persistent vomiting, convulsions, a headache that is present first thing in the morning or that wakes your child at night, changes in personality or behaviour, double vision, difficulty walking, and a headache that worsens when lying down, coughing or sneezing. If your child presents with any of these symptoms or you suspect that she has a brain disorder, contact your doctor immediately. He will perform a physical examination and arrange for hospital tests. Treatment varies according to the nature of the problem (Collins, 2003; KeepKidsHealthy, 1999-2009; Leary, 1990).

 

Relieving headaches

Most headaches can be effectively treated at home. However, if a headache lasts for more than 4 hours, if your child seems to be very unwell, is presenting with other symptoms, or if her headache worries you, consult your doctor for a complete medical examination. Treatment will vary depending on the cause of the headache.

 

There are several ways in which you can help your child if she is suffering from a headache:

·                Liquid paracetamol can be given to ease the pain. Do not exceed the recommended dose.

·                Try to identify and eliminate headache triggers. These may include tension, menses, loud noise, or certain foods and activities.

·                Encourage your child to lie in a cool, dark, quiet room with her eyes closed. Sleep may help relieve the headache. School-age children in particular need to rest their minds and bodies for a few minutes before starting after-school activities.

·                Since hunger is one of the possible causes of headaches, give your child a drink of milk or a nutritious, easily digestible snack, if she is hungry.

·                Dehydration is commonly associated with headaches. Ask your child if she is thirsty or offer her a drink of water. Encourage her to sip her drink slowly because children who are in pain are more prone to vomiting. Avoid caffeinated drinks as they may cause or worsen headaches.

·                High fibre foods assist in the regulation of blood sugar as they do not cause a sudden rise of sugar levels in the bloodstream. Offer your child a banana or wholegrain biscuit if she is developing a headache. Ensure that she has nutritious snacks for school in order to avoid headaches associated with low blood sugar.

·                Teach your child to breathe correctly and to relax her neck and shoulders if you feel that her headache is related to tension. Gently massage her scalp, head, neck and shoulders to help her relax. Alternatively, consult a professional such as a chiropractor or osteopath.

·                If you suspect that your child’s headaches are related to a food allergy or intolerance, keep a food diary of what she eats and consider making an appointment with a nutritionist or allergy specialist. You can use the elimination test, if you suspect that child may be sensitive to a particular food. Remove this food from her diet for 2 weeks and then slowly reintroduce it, to establish whether or not it disagrees with her. Certain foods may bring on headaches in some people; these include sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, as well as tea, cheese, chocolate and dried fruit (Collins, 2003; Leary, 1990).