Pediatric Headache Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Jan 02, 2019
  • Author: J Ivan Lopez, MD, FAAN, FAHS; Chief Editor: George I Jallo, MD  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

To properly manage childhood headache, physicians must understand the common headache patterns and the signs and symptoms that may indicate serious intracranial disease. Treatment of pediatric headaches is complicated by unanswered questions regarding the safety and efficacy of adapting adult pharmacologic therapy to the diverse pediatric population. Problems to be considered include pseudotumor cerebri, Lyme disease, and medication-overuse headache.

One of the common errors would be to simply consider that a neurologic deficit occurring at the time of a throbbing headache with GI symptoms is by definition a migraine with aura. These cases need to be thoroughly characterized and investigated if the description does not fit the classic picture of migraine with aura.

Acute sinusitis can be a cause of headache if associated with the classic purulent discharge and fever and radiologic demonstration of an infection, but chronic sinusitis is not typically considered a cause of headache.

Differential Diagnoses