Skip to navigation menu Skip to content
Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

8/9 -- Pandemic Brought More Woes for Kids Prone to Headaches

Pandemic Brought More Woes for Kids Prone to Headaches

TUESDAY, Aug. 9, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Add more frequent headaches in kids who are already vulnerable to them to the list of ills associated with the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, 60% of kids reported headaches on less than 15 days of the month. After the start of the pandemic, this number fell to 50%. What's more, the percentage of kids reporting constant daily headaches increased from 22% before the pandemic to 36% after the start of the pandemic.

"This is a really big increase," said study author Dr. Marc DiSabella. He's director of the Headache Program at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Exactly how COVID-19 increased headache frequency among kids who get migraines isn't fully understood, but the researchers have their theories -- namely more stress, less physical activity and more screen time.

"COVID-19 disrupted normalcy, and most people with migraines are Type A personalities and want control, and COVID-19 wiped that out," DiSabella said.

For the study, 107 children and adolescents completed a questionnaire about their headaches and lifestyle factors since the start of the pandemic. In addition to more frequent headaches, close to 50% of kids said their headaches got worse after the onset of the pandemic and many reported worse anxiety and mood, which could contribute to headache frequency and severity.

Fully 54% of kids said that they got less exercise, and 61% spent more than six hours a day on their screens during the pandemic. Too much screen time and less exercise can be headache triggers, DiSabella said.

This doesn't mean that parents or kids with headaches are powerless.

"Reset routines," DiSabella said. "It may not be the same routine that your child had pre-pandemic, but trying to establish normal exercise can help."

If team sports aren't a possibility, find a safe alternative so your kids can get enough physical activity throughout the day. "If kids have headaches more than four times per month that impact their quality of life, seek medical attention," he said.

The findings were published online in the Journal of Child Neurology.

The results mirror what Dr. Christina Szperka has been seeing in her practice since the beginning of the pandemic. She is the director of the Pediatric Headache Program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Some patients have certainly experienced worsened headache characteristics since the COVID-19 pandemic," said Szperka, who was not part of the study.

"This may be due to social isolation, stress, decreased physical activity, or increased screen time [with the postural effects], but patients whose headaches have worsened since the COVID pandemic are more likely to seek care and more likely to respond to surveys about the problem," she said. Poor posture while viewing screens can strain the neck and back, causing or worsening headaches.

Still, some kids with headaches may have benefited from increased flexibility with their school schedule and decreased social pressure during the early days of the pandemic, Szperka added. For example, children with a migraine during virtual school could often listen into class with their camera turned off rather than missing the class as they would during in-person school, she said.

"It is important that we try to understand both the positive and negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to help our patients long-term," Szperka said.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on headaches in kids.

SOURCES: Marc DiSabella, DO, director, Headache Program, Children's National Hospital, Washington, D.C.; Christina Szperka, MD, director, Pediatric Headache Program, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Journal of Child Neurology

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Dr. Sarah Chagnon
Dr. Georg Dahl
Dr. Wendy Edlund
Dr. Ralph Northam
Dr. Crystal Proud
Dr. Svinder Toor
Dr. Ryan Williams
Health Tips
Abuse of Prescription ADHD Medicines Rising on College Campuses
Guidelines for Raising Smoke-Free Kids
Helping Kids Get Over their Fears
Kids' Headaches: The Diagnosis Is Difficult
Parenting Déjà vu: Raising Your Grandchildren
Parents-to-Be Must Communicate
Reading to Kids Helps Their Development
Talking With Your Kids About Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco
Talking with Your Teen About Sex
When Can a Child Wear Contact Lenses
Migraine Headaches Quiz
Diseases & Conditions
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma in Children Index
Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) in Children
Bone Marrow Transplant for Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Ewing Sarcoma in Children
Headaches in Children
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) in Children
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Meningitis in Children
Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Myasthenia Gravis (MG) in Children
Neurological Conditions and Pregnancy
Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic Sarcoma) in Children
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children
Pregnancy and Medical Conditions
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries of the Face and Head- Overview
Television and Children
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Your Child's Asthma
Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.