Recognizing the Warning Signs of Pediatric Headaches


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Course release date: 10/19/2021 

About the Course: 
Nurses who work in both acute care and primary care settings will benefit from this course. It covers acute care, emergency care/red flags for infants, children, and adolescents with a headache, and prevention strategies and information about chronic, recurring headaches. A headache in a child may be benign or may signal a medical emergency. How can you tell the difference? What are signs and symptoms specific to infants, children, and adolescents? What in the history or physical exam is crucial to notice quickly and efficiently to provide the best care for a child? 

This course will explore recurrent headaches in children and adolescents, consider headache prevention strategies, describe the acute headache, and identify those with serious or life-threatening causes (“red flags”). The components of the pediatric history and neurological exam will be discussed. Various examples of primary headaches and secondary headaches will be described. After taking this course, the nurse will be able to identify red flags, describe signs and symptoms specific to children, and distinguish between different types of pediatric headaches. Nurses who are experienced in pediatrics or are completely new to the pediatric population will equally benefit from this course. 

Learning Outcomes 
Upon completion of this course, the learner should be able to:

  • Describe the characteristics, signs and symptoms, assessment, and management of different types of headaches in children.
  • Distinguish between primary and secondary headaches, as well as acute and chronic headaches.
  • Identify red flags in clinical presentation and history taking of a child with a headache.
  • Describe differences in how young children and adults present with headaches.
  • Explain the importance of good history taking with both parent and child.
  • Describe various etiologies for headaches, including those caused by illness, acute brain injuries, or head trauma.
  • Identify ways to educate parents and children regarding headaches to promote headache prevention, decrease headache frequency, reduce the risk of falling and head trauma, and allow children and adolescents to help manage their own headache care through the incorporation of patient education into the nurse’s practice.

About the Author: 
Margaret Hughes, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC, PMHNP-BC, is a dual-certified pediatric and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner who graduated from both the Yale School of Nursing in 2016 and Northeastern University in 2021. She currently works in student health at a large university in Boston and sees psychiatric patients at an outpatient clinic. Previously, she worked at community-based and school-based health centers providing primary care to high-risk, medically underserved populations. She also has experience as a registered nurse and has worked at a private pediatric clinic in Connecticut and at an overnight summer camp in New York. 

How to Receive Credit:

  • Read the entire course online or in print which requires a 3-hour commitment of time.
  • Complete the Self-Assessment Quiz Questions either integrated throughout or all at the end of the course.
    • These questions are NOT GRADED. The questions are included to help affirm what you have learned from the course.
    • The correct answer is shown after the question is answered. If the incorrect answer is selected, a Rationale for the correct answer is provided.  
  • At the end of the course, answer the Yes/No Affirmation question to indicate that you have completed the educational activity. 
  • Specific to Florida: A mandatory Final Examination with a passing score of 70% or higher is required. Exam questions link content to the course Learning Objectives as a method to enhance individualized learning and material retention. 
  • If requested, provide required personal and payment information. 
  • Complete the mandatory Nursing Course Evaluation. 
  • Print your Certificate of Completion.


Resolution of Conflict of Interest 
In accordance with the ANCC Standards for Commercial Support for continuing education, Colibri Healthcare, LLC implemented mechanisms prior to the planning and implementation of the continuing education activity, to identify and resolve conflicts of interest for all individuals in a position to control content of the course activity. 

Sponsorship/Commercial Support and Non-Endorsement 
It is the policy of Colibri Healthcare, LLC not to accept commercial support. Furthermore, commercial interests are prohibited from distributing or providing access to this activity to learners.  

The information provided in this activity is for continuing education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a healthcare provider relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient’s medical condition ©2021: All Rights Reserved. Materials may not be reproduced without the expressed written permission or consent of Colibri Healthcare, LLC. The materials presented in this course are meant to provide the consumer with general information on the topics covered. The information provided was prepared by professionals with practical knowledge of the areas covered. It is not meant to provide medical, legal, or professional advice. Colibri Healthcare, LLC recommends that you consult a medical, legal, or professional services expert licensed in your state. Colibri Healthcare, LLC has made all reasonable efforts to ensure that all content provided in this course is accurate and up-to-date at the time of printing, but does not represent or warrant that it will apply to your situation nor circumstances and assumes no liability from reliance on these materials. Quotes are collected from customer feedback surveys. The models are intended to be representative and not actual customers.  

Course Verification 
All individuals involved have disclosed that they have no significant financial or other conflicts of interest pertaining to this course. Likewise, and in compliance with California Assembly Bill No. 241, every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the content in this course is balanced and unbiased.