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Although headache is a common symptom in children and adolescents, only a very small percentage of patients present to the emergency department for evaluation of this complaint. The majority of these headaches are benign and are either primary, such as migraine or tension-type headaches, or secondary to a viral etiology. Parents and children themselves are most concerned about the possibility of a brain tumor, whereas ED physicians are also on the alert for carbon monoxide toxicity, subarachnoid hemorrhage, meningitis, and increased intracranial pressure. The authors review the causes, diagnostic testing, and treatment of the common headache, as well as some unusual causes of non-traumatic headache.

Pediatric Headaches: Distinguishing the Common from the Serious