Current Environment:


Headaches are very common with viral illness, especially with colds. Unexplained headaches can occur in children, just as they do in adults. They usually pass in a few hours or last up to a day.

Symptom Management

Pain Medicine:

Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief. Before administering medication, please review our medication dosing guides.

Food May Help:

Give fruit juice or food if your child is hungry or hasn’t eaten in more than 4 hours.


Have your child lie down in a dark, quiet place and relax until feeling better.

Cold Pack for Pain:

Apply a cold, wet washcloth or cold pack to the forehead for 20 minutes.

Stretch Neck Muscles:

Stretch and massage any tight neck muscles.

Migraine Medication:

If your child’s doctor has prescribed a specific medication for migraine, give it as soon as the migraine starts. If not, ibuprofen is the best over-the-counter drug for migraines.

Expected Course

Headaches usually resolve in 2 or 3 days. Migraine headaches in particular take about 2 to 6 hours to go away.

When to Call the Office

  • Headache becomes severe.
  • Vomiting occurs.
  • Unexplained headache lasts over 24 hours.
  • Headache with a viral illness lasts over 3 days.
  • Your child becomes worse.


©1994-2022 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines, LLC.

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.