Headaches can take a serious toll on a child’s quality of life by limiting participation in social events, play, sports and school-related activities.
Between 4 to 10 percent of children suffer from migraines headaches each year, according to the American Headache Society.
“Headaches in children are a fairly common problem and physicians continue to see and treat a steady stream of children with them,” said pediatric neurologist Dr. Eugene Schnitzler of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.
Fortunately, in most cases the causes of childhood headaches are usually no cause for alarm, Schnitzler said. Children can get headaches from stress, anxiety, inadequate sleep, vision problems, caffeine or food sensitivities. To help pinpoint the cause, Loyola has opened a clinic that’s exclusively devoted to treating children with headaches.
“The clinic is for children who are having very frequent headaches that aren’t getting better with rest or over-the-counter pain medication,” said Schnitzler, who will direct the clinic along with pediatric neurologist Dr. Christopher Inglese and Dr. Sandra Pinilla.
Schnitzler and Inglese are both board-certified neurologists who are experienced in researching treatment of headaches in children.
Nutrition referral, psychological and psychiatric consultations and ophthalmology evaluations are also available. In addition, as part of a top academic medical center, the clinic offers access to the latest in research and clinical trials. Children seen at the clinic have access to the latest diagnostic testing available, including MRI, CAT scan, EEG/EMG, PET scan, epilepsy monitoring and sleep studies.
Schnitzler said parent should be aware of the signs that indicate that their children’s headaches may be something more serious that demands medical attention, including:
• Headaches that occur every day and that tend to be worse in the morning, especially if accompanied by nausea or vomiting. The pain doesn’t have to be severe.
• Headaches that occur in tandem with convulsions, seizures and problems with vision and coordination.
• When a child who doesn’t have a history of headaches suddenly comes down with a severe headache. These children should be quickly seen at an emergency room or by a family doctor.
• Headaches caused by an injury to the head. If the pain is persistent and accompanied by vomiting, it could indicate the child had a concussion. A medical professional should see the child as quickly as possible.
• Headaches that are accompanied by a stiff neck or fever. This could be a sign of meningitis, an inflammation and infection of the tissue lining the brain and spinal cord. These children should also be quickly seen at an emergency room or by a family doctor.
The clinic cares for children suffering from stress-related, cluster, migraine and other types of headaches from 8:30 to 11 a.m. every Friday at the Loyola Outpatient Center, on the campus of Loyola University Medical Center, 2160 S. First Ave., Maywood. To make an appointment or for more information, call Angelia Ware at (708) 216-3180.
Source: Loyola University Health System