Young headache sufferers and their parents

General information

  • Keep a headache calendar or diary. Mark down when you have a headache, how bad it is on a 110 scale and what you had to do to take it away. Jot down when you had to miss school or work. Download a headache calendar you can use.
  • Obtain a headache book from the list provided and keep it handy as a reference. Visit the various headache Web sites listed on the sheet provided. Learn as much as possible about your headache condition. This will help you maintain control over your headaches. A list of books and Web sites.
  • Do not run out of your prescription medications. Plan ahead.
  • Have an information sheet on file in your school's health room and work with your school nurse to facilitate quick treatment of your headaches. Download an information sheet you can use.

Non-drug methods

  1. Don't skip meals this is a potent headache trigger.
  2. Try to wake up and go to sleep at about the same time every day. This can minimize the number of headaches.
  3. Try to identify specific triggers that can bring on your headache and avoid them if possible. All of the recommended books have lists of common headache triggers. Some may be rather obvious to you, others may not.
  4. Biofeedback is a particularly helpful non-drug method for relieving headache pain in children and adolescents. Information is available upon request.
  5. Learn and practice relaxation techniques.
  6. Sometimes, a visit with a pain psychologist will be recommended in order to uncover any factors that may be adding to your headache condition.

Medications for headache

  1. Treat the headache early and aggressively. Try to identify signs and symptoms that may tip you off that a headache may soon occur (i.e., neck aching, yawning, fatigue, etc.).
  2. Treat nausea aggressively. Usually, the best choice will be Metoclopramide (Reglan). This not only helps for nausea, but also helps headache medications get absorbed better. Take this at the first sign of a significant headache.
  3. Be aware of rebound headaches. It is easier to prevent this type of headache than to treat them. If you are using short acting, immediate relief medications more than 2 days per week, you could be at risk for developing this condition.
  4. Preventive Medications (those medications used to reduce the number and severity of headaches).
  5. Acute Medications (those used to stop a headache as soon as possible).
  6. Rescue Medications (those medications taken when the acute treatment doesn't work).

Goals

Remember your treatment goals:

  • Eliminate emergency room visits for treatment of acute headache pain.
  • Have a program that works and is well tolerated.
  • Minimize the impact of your headache on your school and family activities.

Follow-up

If you have an appointment scheduled, be sure to keep it. If the headache pattern worsens, call your doctor.