What Causes Headaches and Nosebleeds in Children?

Together, a headache and a nosebleed may signify an underlying problem

By themselves, both nosebleeds and headaches are common in children and are usually not caused by a serious problem. Taken together though, these two symptoms might indicate a more serious problem, like high blood pressure, which can cause both symptoms. 

High Blood Pressure in Children 

Like adults, children can develop high blood pressure if they follow a poor diet, are overweight, or don't get enough exercise.

In otherwise healthy, young children, high blood pressure is usually the sign of an underlying medical problem. Conditions which can cause high blood pressure include heart disease, kidney disease, and hormonal problems.

If your child gets enough exercise, follows a proper diet and is a healthy weight, your doctor may run some blood tests or do some imaging to rule out any underlying conditions. Your pediatrician may also recommend other diet and lifestyle changes to manage blood pressure, as well.  

Anemia and Nosebleeds

If your child's nosebleeds are severe, he or she may develop anemia—a deficiency in red blood cells, which can cause a variety of symptoms including headaches and fatigue. If your child has frequent headaches, nosebleeds and seems lethargic or fatigued, speak to your pediatrician about having your child's blood tested for anemia. A simple blood count can determine whether or not anemia is present.

If your child does have anemia, your pediatrician might recommend iron supplements or vitamin B, depending on the results of the blood test. In most cases, anemia resolves with iron supplements—either through medication or dietary changes. Your child's doctor will likely want to monitor them and redraw blood within a few weeks if the symptoms have not improved.

Other Causes of Nosebleeds and Headaches

There are many conditions, like allergies or a sinus infection, that could cause your child to have both nosebleeds and a headache. An allergist or ear, nose, throat specialist can help diagnose any allergies or sinus problems your child may be having. The way in which your child's head pain presents can help you determine whether or not the pain and bloody nose are related to sinus issues. If a headache is heavy and feels like pressure behind the eyes and nose, it may be a sinus issue. As always, any systems that concern you and persist or worsen over time should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Symptoms That Should Be Evaluated by Your Child's Doctor 

Any symptoms that concern you, including a change in or worsening of symptoms, should always be evaluated by a doctor. If your child's headaches worsen, speak to your child's pediatrician. Other symptoms that should be evaluated by a medical professional include fainting and nosebleed that continues even after your child's nostril are closed tightly for 10 to 15 minutes. Drowsiness and confusion may also indicate something more serious hiding behind your child's headaches.

If your child's blood pressure is normal and there are no other serious symptoms, the simultaneous nosebleeds and headaches may be coincidental.

Source:

Dooley, JM. The evaluation and management of paediatric headaches. Paediatr Child Health. 2009 Jan; 14(1): 24–30.

Elliot, William J., M.D., Ph.D. - HealthScoutNews - High Blood Pressure Strikes Even the Young. Dec. 27, 2002.

Continue Reading