Prevent ‘Testing Season’ Headaches, Migraines with These 7 Tips

by ih-chi admin

In Austin, March is a month full of fun activities from rodeo to SXSW to Spring Break. Then why do we often see a spike of headaches and migraines among kids? Allergies are one of the main causes, which tend to run high in March. The other cause is often associated with a five letter word…STAAR.

Well, not just STAAR but testing in general. That’s right. March is a busy month for academic testing, whether it be a standardized version like the statewide STAAR, or entrance exams to a new school or program for the coming fall. The stress of these tests can take a toll on kids.

It could be the form of tummy aches or tiredness. Other kids might complain of serious tension headaches, and migraines—especially teenagers and especially kids who have a prior history.

“We see a much higher volume of kids with headaches in the office at this time of year. While some are attributed to severe spring allergies and other factors, some are triggered by academic stress,” says Dr. Lindsay Elton.

Typical headache symptoms include head pain, difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or inability to relax, impaired concentration, and occasionally dizziness, nausea, or sensitivity to light and noise.

To manage your child’s migraine symptoms, Dr. Elton suggests the following:

  • An ice pack or cool compress to the forehead or back of the neck.
  • A warm bath or long shower after school.
  • A nap with no “screens” (phones, tablets, or televisions). Also, earlier bedtimes and extra zzz’s can help prevent a headache on nights before tests.
  • Frequent hydration, as this is also a common cause of headaches in children.
  • Eat more fresh versus processed foods.
  • Add exercise, like a walk or bike ride.
  • Add "chill out" time. This could be coloring, a trip to a park, hiking, playing music — any activity that your child enjoys and can be calming after a stressful day of testing.

If your child does not see improvement in symptoms or headaches persist, please contact us about seeing one of our specialists for an evaluation.