Since infants can't talk, it's difficult to determine exactly what is hurting them. However, your infant's body language may give you a clue. Headaches can be minor or the symptom of a more serious illness or injury. If you cannot manage the pain on your own, you should seek the medical advice of your physician.
The National Headache Foundation reports that causes of headaches in babies include hunger, physical strain, stress, or inflammation of the tissues in the sinuses. Headaches occur in babies who are teething or have an ear ache. Other causes can include dehydration, colds, flu, and even strong odors. Migraine headaches can plague babies the same as they would an adult. Serious illness such as meningitis will cause headaches in infants. Head trauma due to an accident or fall are also causes of headaches in babies.
Infants cry when they are in pain. However, some infants that are having more severe pain can have symptoms that are more concerning. They may be inconsolable, incoherent, and even reach for or hold their heads. According to Cincinnati Children's Hospital, some common signs of headaches in infants include irritability, head banging, and waking at night. Some infants suffer from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Babies suffering from a migraine-type headache will have sensitivity to light.
Your physician will do a physical examination of your infant to determine if they are suffering from headaches. This exam will include measuring head circumference, blood pressure, height and weight. The doctor will ask questions about your family history, and obtain detailed information about when your infant’s headaches occur. Your physician will do tests such as computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or spinal tap. These tests help your physician determine if there is an underlying illness or physical condition causing the headache.
Rest and sleep is usually enough to relieve a headache in your baby. There are various types of pain relieving medications available at your local pharmacy. Avoid giving over-the-counter pain medication to your baby more than two or three days a week because they can damage your baby's liver or other organs. According to the Mayo Clinic, using a cold compress will reduce pain from a headache, but if it is too cold, it will increase pain levels. If an underlying medical condition such as meningitis or a head trauma causes the headache, your baby will need to receive specialized medical treatment. In this case, your physician will prescribe intravenous pain medications.
Kids Health reports that if your baby has a decreased level of alertness, vomiting, fever or consistent irritability, you should contact your physician to have your child evaluated.