Going back to school can literally be a headache for American children.
New research from the U.S. Nationwide Children’s Hospital found there’s a 31 percent uptick in headaches among children 5 to 18 years old in the fall, according to Science Daily.
These headaches were likely caused by schedule changes and an increase in after-school activities, the study said. Headaches may also be the result of poor sleep schedules and low amounts of exercise due to the demands of a school day and homework.
To find this, researchers looked at emergency hospital visits and grouped them by season. In their research, they found there were more visits related to headaches in the fall than any other time of the year.
“We see a lot of headaches in young boys, from 5 to 9 years of age, and in boys they tend to get better in later adolescence,” Dr. Ann Pakalnis, the study’s lead researcher, said in a press release. “In teenage girls, migraines oftentimes make their first presentation around the time of puberty and unfortunately tend to persist into adulthood.”
The study found that children often got two types of headaches: migraines, which cause nausea, vomiting and affect sight and smell, and tension headaches, which simply make the head feel tighter than normal.
“Your brain is like your cell phone,” Dr. Howard Jacobs, a headache specialist at Nationwide Children’s, said, according to Science Daily. “If you don’t plug your cell phone in, it doesn’t have energy, it doesn’t work well. If you don’t plug your brain in by providing energy, it doesn’t work well and that causes headaches.”
The study’s researchers said these headaches can be prevented if parents help their children get the proper amount of liquids after and before school. Parents should also help their children reduce stresses and anxieties as much as possible, the researchers said.
Parents may also see an uptick in their children’s anxiety levels during the school year, since they will be exposed to more activities — like exams, social interactions and extracurricular actives — that could create havoc in their lives, according to Psychology Today.
To help their children, parents should remind their youngsters that they do not need to always be perfect. This will help the child’s anxiety over test exams decline, Psychology Today reported.
Parents may also want to encourage a healthy sleep schedule and help them solve the problems they are facing in school, Psychology Today reported.
It’s also important for parents to help their children find breaks and relaxation periods in their daily routines so that they aren’t overloaded with activities, according to Psychology Today.
Extracurricular activities can create busy schedules, which also create a batch of issues for families, according to Lois Collins of the Deseret News. Students who have after-school activities often miss out on family dinners and activities, which can create friction among family members, Collins reported
That’s why it’s important to help your children keep a light schedule, one not packed with activities that will stress them out, according to Psychology Today.
“Anxiety and stress can be a chronic struggle and often the source of a child’s anxiety changes over time so it can feel as though you are always putting out fires,” according to Psychology Today. “With repetition of the anxiety and stress management techniques, your child will learn how to lower his/her anxiety level and how to cope with anxiety-provoking situations.”