Puberty Headaches - Everything You Need To Know

✔ Research-backed

Apart from the menstrual cycle and abdominal cramps, many adolescents deal with puberty headaches due to stress or hormonal changes in their bodies. The pain is usually managed by resting in a dark room or taking a painkiller. However, sometimes the headache may be due to other underlying conditions. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor if you find any worrying symptoms in your adolescents. You may even guide your teenagers to follow preventive tips to deal with the issue. Read the post to understand more about headaches in adolescents and what you can do to relieve the pain.

In This Article

Can Puberty Cause Headaches?

The American Family Physician claims that the frequency of headaches increases when children start growing. Studies reveal that almost 51% of children older than seven years are likely to experience headaches. The percentage increases to 82% among children who are around 15 years of age (1).

Why Do Headaches Occur During Puberty?

Headaches are a sign of PMS in teens

Image: Shutterstock

Hormonal changes that trigger puberty also cause headaches during the teenage years. It is during adolescence that puberty migraines begin to add to your child’s woes. When it comes to women’s health, migraine headaches possibly occur due to changes in the level of estrogen, a hormone found in females. Multiple institutions conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis to explore the epidemiology of primary headaches among children and adolescents. The study’s findings revealed that 62% of this population experienced primary headaches, with a prevalence of 38% among females and 27% among males. It, therefore, explains why teenage girls often complain of headaches. In fact, studies reveal that a teen may experience headache particularly before, during or after a menstrual period. Headaches are also a common sign of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and can occur 1-2 weeks before the onset of menstruation. (2) Another common cause of headaches during puberty is stress.

Another common cause of headaches during puberty is stress.

protip_icon Quick fact
Migraines are more common among boys in early childhood and before puberty. In adolescence, however, they affect more girls than boys (8).

How Can I Tackle Puberty Headaches?

There are different treatment options meant for dealing with different types of headaches. Your teen can do some stress-busting by participating in sports. It will help him get pain relief from headaches arising due to stress at school, peer pressure, or family life.

You may offer medicines, such as painkillers, to help your teen get rid of that throbbing headache. Some pediatricians also recommend a dose of Ibuprofen and acetaminophen as soon as the headache begins for better pain management. Let your teen sit down in a quiet, dark room for some time to ease his headache. It is usually an effective way of dealing with headaches arising due to hormonal changes during puberty (3).

You should seek a medical opinion for headache management if your teen is suffering from any of the following types of headaches (4):

  • Headaches occurring after a head injury.

    Consult a doctor if the headache is occuring after a head injury

    Image: Shutterstock

  • Frequent headaches with chronic pain (more than once a week).
  • Headaches that accompany fainting or seizures.
  • Headaches that lead to blurred vision and changes in the eyesight.
  • Headaches that are more common in the middle of the night.
  • If other symptoms such as toothache, stiff neck, jaw pain and vomiting accompany headaches.

protip_icon Quick tip
Children experiencing headaches can maintain a diary to identify the triggers. It will help them manage their headaches better and allow doctors to determine an effective treatment (3).

How Can I Prevent Puberty Headaches?

While most of the times headaches occur due to hormonal changes, there may be several other factors that could trigger it. Limiting your child’s exposure to those triggers could help prevent headaches and benefit mental health and cognitive function.

Here are a few tips to help your teen keep headache at bay:

  • In the case of migraine headaches, certain foods like hot dogs, luncheon meat, nuts, and chocolates may act as triggers for the pain. Limiting the consumption of these could prevent it.
  • Practicing deep breathing techniques, regular exercising and getting 7-8 hours of sleep a day could prevent stress related headaches in teens.

    Regular exercising could prevent stress related headaches in teens

    Image: Shutterstock

  • Having a positive outlook and staying confident could also prevent stress related headaches in teens.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it normal for a 12-year-old to have headaches every day?

No. Frequent headaches can signify a severe underlying neurology condition and cause problems in behavior and social interactions (5).

2. How do you know puberty has ended?

For most girls, puberty ends by the age of 16, but for some, it may end at the age of 20. In the case of boys, puberty mostly ends at the age of 17, in others, it may continue up to the early 20s. (6).

3. Does puberty hurt?

During puberty, boys and girls go through a wide range of hormonal changes, which might give rise to them feeling various emotions. The period might, at times, be stressful (7).

4. What do puberty headaches feel like?

Migraine or tension headaches are two possible types of headaches that may affect children’s health during puberty. A migraine headache is a throbbing sensation that may be on one side of the head, while tension headaches feel like a tight band around the head. Tension headaches are typically dull, continuous aches on both sides of the head, but they may also be felt at the front and back of the head (8).

5. Can too much screen time cause headaches in teenagers?

Yes, too much screen time can cause a headache. Screens and bright lights can cause migraines, and spending too much time stuck to an iPad, phone, or computer might result in tension headaches or headaches driven by eye fatigue. In addition, while using gadgets, poor posture can strain the neck and back, leading to headaches (9).

6. Do boys get migraines during puberty?

Yes, boys have a nearly 8% probability of developing migraines during puberty. Stress, lack of sleep, exercise, and a family history of migraines are a few reasons a child may experience migraines during puberty, irrespective of gender (10).

Most children experience puberty headaches because of the changes in estrogen levels. Some pediatric doctors recommend taking a painkiller to relieve such headaches. You may also encourage your child to stay stress-free and lie in a dark room to relieve headaches caused by hormonal changes. Sometimes, headaches are also triggered by things other than hormones. Your child may also practice deep breathing, getting enough sleep, and staying away from foods like nuts and chocolates to prevent such headaches. If your child experiences frequent headaches, has blurred vision, develops a stiff neck, and other worrying symptoms, you should consult a doctor.

Infographic: Ways To Reduce The Occurrence Of Puberty Headache

Puberty is a time of physical and emotional changes in the human body. And one common symptom that adolescents may experience during puberty is headaches. These headaches can range in severity and frequency and interfere with their daily activities. The infographic below highlights the ways to prevent or reduce their occurrence. Explore!

how can i prevent puberty headaches (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Hormonal changes during puberty may cause headaches in children.
  • Fluctuations in estrogen levels can lead to migraines in teenage girls.
  • Premenstrual syndrome and stress can also contribute to headaches in teenage girls.
  • Regular exercise and breathing techniques can help manage headaches in teenagers.
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References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Bo Larsson and A˚sa Fichtel; (2011); Headache prevalence and characteristics among school children as assessed by prospective paper diary recordings.
    https://thejournalofheadacheandpain.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1007/s10194-011-0410-9
  2. Vincent T Martin et al.; (2017); Ovarian hormones, age and pubertal development and their association with days of headache onset in girls with migraine: An observational cohort study.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28474986/
  3. Headaches.
    https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Headaches_in_children_and_teenagers/
  4. Headaches.
    https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/headaches.html
  5. Headaches in Children.
    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/headache/headaches-in-children
  6. Puberty.
    https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22192-puberty
  7. Puberty.
    https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/puberty
  8. Headaches.
    https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Headaches_in_children_and_teenagers/
  9. Is too much screen time causing your child’s headache.
    https://cureheadaches.org/2020/11/04/is-too-much-screen-time-causing-your-childs-headaches/
  10. Migraine headaches in children and teens : Parents FAQ
    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/head-neck-nervous-system/Pages/Migraine-Headaches-in-Children.aspx
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Dr. Dur Afshar Agha is a consultant pediatrician with around 26 years of experience in various medical facilities both in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. She has headed the Department of Preventive Pediatrics at the prestigious, Children’s Hospital and Institute of Child Health in Pakistan and is a life member of the Pakistan Paediatric Association.

Read full bio of Dr. Dur Afshar Agha