Childhood headaches: Expert advice for parents

Written by: Dr Chinwe Ude
Edited by: Sophie Kennedy

Headaches in children can cause debilitating physical symptoms as well as emotional, psychological and social consequences if left undiagnosed and untreated. In this expert article, highly respected consultant paediatrician Dr Chinwe Ude shares her expert insight on key lifestyle changes families can make to help children suffering from recurrent headaches and explains the importance of seeing a specialist when the symptoms become persistent.



Can chronic headaches be a sign of something serious?


Many people worry that the headache is caused by sinister cause like brain tumours. Although brain tumours form a small proportion of causes of chronic headaches in children, it is important that any concerns around this are addressed and investigated under a paediatrician with expertise in managing childhood headaches, who will be able to allay anxieties while investigating and managing symptoms promptly and appropriately



What should you do if your child has chronic headaches?


In most cases, headaches are not caused by space-occupying lesions in the brain, but they can be quite severe, both in the intensity of the pain and to the extent to which it disrupts the child’s life. In general, good quality sleep and promoting a healthy lifestyle can help with headaches in children. There may be known triggers for the headaches which should be avoided. Keeping a headache diary would help you to identify triggers.



What should you do if lifestyle changes do not work?


Many families simply find it challenging to persevere with recommended lifestyle modifications. In some children, headache symptoms persist despite making those changes. Indeed, some children may have undiagnosed sleep difficulties or disorders which perpetuate their headaches.


It is important to arrange for your child to be seen by a paediatrician with experience in managing headache symptoms. The expert will arrange investigations promptly and appropriately. They should also help you identify triggers, advise around lifestyle modifications and prescribe medications to ease symptoms where necessary.




If you are concerned about your child’s headaches and wish to schedule an appointment with Dr Ude, you can do so by visiting her Top Doctors profile.

By Dr Chinwe Ude

Dr Chinwe Ude is a highly respected consultant paediatrician based in Chatham, Kent. She is renowned for her expertise in children’s seizures, chronic headache and sleep disorders and also specialises in gastrointestinal problems, allergies and intolerances and constipation and abdominal pain. Dr Ude has additional expertise in paediatric neurology, movement disorders and cerebral palsy.

Dr Ude qualified in medicine at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, the country’s leading academic institution, in 2003. After relocating to the UK, she pursued further specialist training, including an extended period of training in neurology at Cambridge University Hospital, Addenbrookes. She completed a postgraduate diploma in paediatric and child health at University College London in 2013. Dr Ude was appointed as a consultant paediatrician at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust in 2016, where she continues to run weekly clinics in general paediatric care, epilepsy and neurology. In addition, she is currently clinical lead of the Trust’s Paediatric Epilepsy Neurology Service and also holds a variety of supervisory responsibilities for children’s units, including the Paediatric Emergency Department and the Paediatric Assessment Unit. Dr Ude works in partnership with various highly esteemed agencies, including the Child Brain Injury Trust and Cerebra, to provide the best possible care for children and young people with epilepsy. She is renowned for her skill in connecting with young patients and is passionate about providing highly personalised care according to the needs of each individual. She sees private patients at the Spire Alexandra Hospital in Chatham, Kent.

In addition to her clinical responsibilities, Dr Ude holds a number of key positions and is a working group member for NHS England’s Children and Young People Transformation Programme for Epilepsy. She is also clinical lead for the South Thames Paediatric Network’s Epilepsy Operational Division Network and is a Medical Advisory Committee member at the Spire Alexandra Hospital. Dr Ude is a passionate proponent of children’s health and is proud to serve as a Health Advocate and Advisor for Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, a group which provides specialist nurses who help to enrich the lives of children living with life-limiting medical conditions. She also volunteers as a befriender for Age UK Medway.

Dr Ude is also actively involved in education and is an honorary lecturer on Brighton University’s MSc paediatrics programme. She is also a member of The Howard Academy Trust, which promotes high educational standards for children. Dr Ude is a fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and is a member of the British Paediatric Neurology Association and the South Thames Paediatric Epilepsy Group.

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