What causes a headache?

The exact cause of headaches is not completely understood. It is thought that many headaches are the result of tight muscles and dilated, or expanded, blood vessels in the head. Although migraine headaches were previously thought to be due to dilated blood vessels in the brain, newer theories suggest that changes in brain chemicals or electrical signaling may be involved. Other headaches may be caused by an alteration in the communication between parts of the nervous system that relay information about pain, coming from the area of the head, face, and neck. Lack of sleep and poor sleep quality are often the cause of chronic headaches. Occasionally, there is an actual problem in the brain, such as a tumor or malformation of the brain, although this is rare.

The way a child exhibits a headache may be related to many factors, such as genetics, hormones, stress, diet, medications, and dehydration. Recurrent headaches of any type can cause school problems, behavioral problems, and/or depression.

What Do We Do

At Childhood Health Associates of Salem, our Behavioral Health Consultants work with your child’s PCP to provide behavioral strategies to help manage their symptoms. This can include learning relaxation skills, identifying stressors, and learning lifestyle changes to promote headache health. 



  • The Boy with Big, Big Feelings
    by Britney Winn Lee
  • Migraine and Mia
    by Kat Harrison
  • Hey Warrior
    by Karen Young
  • Ruby Finds a Worry
    by Tom Percival



Sesame Street: Learn to Belly Breath with Rosita
Breathing Butterfly in Spanish from The Elfenworks Foundation


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