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Head or Face Pain in Children: Care Instructions


Common causes of head or face pain are allergies, stress, and injuries. Other causes include tooth problems and sinus infections. Eating certain foods, such as chocolate or cheese, or drinking certain liquids, such as cola, can cause head pain for some children.

If your child has mild head pain, they may not need medicine for treatment. It is important to watch your child's symptoms and talk to your doctor if the pain continues or gets worse.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if they can take an over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra).
    • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Have your child take it easy for the next few days or longer if your child is not feeling well.
  • Use a warm, moist towel to relax tight muscles in your child's shoulder and neck. Gently massage your child's neck and shoulders.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has twitching, jerking, or a seizure.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child has general weakness, including new problems with walking or balance.
  • Your child has a sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has a fever with a stiff neck or a severe headache.
  • Your child has nausea and vomiting.
  • Your child cannot keep food or liquids down.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child's head or face pain does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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