Feature Article

Headache in childhood and adolescence

Michele Yeo, Ingrid E Scheffer, Susan Sawyer



Headache is a common complaint in childhood and adolescence. Although the headaches are generally infrequent and rarely life-threatening, young people frequently present, with their parents, to doctors seeking reassurance that this symptom does not have a serious cause. When headache becomes chronic, it may impact significantly on wellbeing, and effective management may present a challenge.

Key Points

  • Identifying a specific headache syndrome is the key to diagnosis and management of headache in children and adolescents.
  • A headache diary is helpful in identifying trigger factors, and in determining the frequency and severity of the headache and its temporal profile.
  • Psychosocial factors play an important role in recurrent and chronic headaches.
  • Successful management of headache in children and adolescents includes a combined pharmacological and nonpharmacological (behavioural) approach.