Can Dyslexia Cause Headaches?

By Elizabeth Harstad

My child has dyslexia and he has also been having headaches recently. Could the headaches be caused by the dyslexia?

Elizabeth Harstad

Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician, Boston Children’s Hospital

No, not directly. But kids with dyslexia often struggle in school, and the stress and frustration that come along with these struggles may cause tension headaches.

How can you tell if school stress is causing your child’s headaches? Think about when he tends to get them. Do the headaches tend to occur on school days but not on weekends?

Another clue is if he says the headaches hurt around his 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 child’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 that can help him learn how to read well.

If your child is getting frequent headaches, talk to his doctor. Headaches are pretty common in children, and most of the time they are not serious. Some of the most common causes of headaches in children are stress, minor injuries and mild illnesses such as a cold.

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 attention issues.

About the Author

Portrait of Elizabeth Harstad

Elizabeth Harstad is a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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