Q. My child has dyslexia and he has also been having headaches recently. Could the headaches be caused by the dyslexia?
A. No, not directly. But kids with often struggle in school. And the stress and frustration accompanying these struggles may cause tension headaches.
How can you tell if school stress is causing kids’ headaches? Think about when they tend to get them. Do the headaches tend to occur on school days but not on weekends?
Another clue is if they say the headaches hurt around their temples or forehead area. People often describe the pain of stress headaches as feeling like a tight band around the head.
If you think stress at school is causing your son’s headaches, talk to his teacher. Together you can help your child develop strategies to relax and ease his frustration.
Keep praising your child for his hard work. This is especially important, because he likely has to work harder than his classmates. Let him know that you will try to get him the supports he needs at school to help him learn how to read well.
If your child is getting frequent headaches, talk to his health care provider. Headaches are pretty common in kids. Most of the time, these headaches aren’t serious. Some of the most common causes of headaches in kids are stress, minor injuries, and mild illnesses like colds.
The doctor might also want to do an eye exam. Vision problems don’t cause dyslexia or vice versa. But vision problems can cause headaches.
I also wanted to note that sometimes headaches could be a sign of a more serious health problem. Are your child’s headaches so severe that they’re waking him up at night? Or does he have a fever and neck pain? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, seek medical attention right away.
Since stress could be causing your child’s headaches, you might want to learn more about common sources of stress for kids with learning and thinking differences.
About the author
About the author
Elizabeth Harstad, MD, MPH is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.