Practically, the only cause of headache during infancy and early childhood is disease of the brain or its covering membranes and fortunately, these conditions are rare. Older children however, frequently suffer from headache. The causes are numerous and are similar to those responsible for the condition in adults.
We may classify the varieties of headaches as follows:
*Toxin or poison headache
In this condition, the blood becomes impure through the absorption of the various noxious or waste substances; the poisoned blood in turn irritating the delicate brain cells. The condition that leads to this poisoning of the blood are chronic indigestion, bilious attacks, constipation, inflammation of the kidneys, the infectious diseases, lack of ventilation, the breathing of tobacco smoke and others too numerous to mention.
This type of headache is due to a congestion or stagnation of blood in the brain. Stagnant blood, like stagnant water is unhealthy. In order for the brain to be clear and healthy, it must be continuously supplied with fresh, pure blood. The conditions that lead to congestion of the brain are over study, anxiety or worry and did you know that even the wearing of tight colors or neck-bands are contributing factors?
This type of headache is caused by a deficient supply of blood to the brain. It occurs in persons who are pale and ill-nourished. General anemia and consequently anemic headaches frequently follow serious illness of any kind.
There are also other varieties of headaches which are due to various local diseases or abnormal conditions such as inflammation of the eyes, defective vision, adenoids, nasal polypus and abscess of the middle ear, foreign body in the ear canal, delayed or difficult menstruation and also high blood pressure.
There are also headaches due to tumor of the brain or disease of its covering membranes, as in meningitis. However, a headache due to this cause is not common and when present may be persistent and extremely severe.
The treatments of headaches consist chiefly in removing the cause. For toxic headache, if it can be ascertained that it is due to indigestion and constipation, proceed as follows:
Withhold food for one or two meals. Have the child drink a glass of water each half hour throughout the day. If unsweetened lemon squash is preferred and agrees with the child, it may be allowed instead of water. If the child complaints of feeling sick, give at one time, a glass of tepid salt water. This will usually induce vomiting, thus relieving the stomach of acid fluid or undigested food. You may also give an enema if the child is constipated. In order to prevent a recurrence of the pain the causes must be permanently avoided. The so-called bilious headaches that occur somewhat periodically in children and adults can be entirely prevented by carefully regulating the diet and attending to the bowels.
Congestive headache can be relieved from mental work, together with such treatments as drawing the stagnant blood from the brain. Apply very cold compresses, frequently changed, to the head and around the neck. At the same time give a hot leg bath. This combined application sometimes work like a charm. In other cases, large hot fomentation should be applied to the abdomen as well. Congestive headache can usually be recognized by a flush face and the sense of throbbing and fullness in the head.
Anemic headache is always accompanied by pallor and often by faintness and marked weakness. For the immediate relief of the pain, have the child lie down with the head lower than the feet. This can be accomplished by raising the foot of the bed upon chairs or by the use of bricks. Apply small hot compress to the brow and back of the neck, the purpose of this treatment is to encourage the flow of blood to the brain. The curative treatment consists in relieving the general anemia by means of an ample and nutritious dietary, sunshine, fresh air, rest and other suitable measures such as the administration of iron.
Remember to take your child to the pediatrician for frequent checkups and adults, visit your doctor as well; especially If headaches persist as this can be signs of more severe illnesses. A child who suffers frequently from headaches for which no adequate cause can be found should be taken to a physician. It may be that there is some disease of the eyes, ears, nose or possible of the kidneys which will account for the trouble.