Pandemic Affliction: Kids Get More Headaches

A new study found that children are more prone to severe headaches, and the pandemic is believed to be at fault.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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More kids are reporting an increase in headaches. Children already prone to this ailment suffered from increased migraines at such a rate that one study is focusing on the relation between the pandemic and this phenomenon. From increased anxiety to more screen time, varying factors are being considered.

Children with Type A personalities prefer to control the situations they enter. Unfortunately, pandemic protocols destroyed that ability and left many children feeling helpless and hopeless. Throughout the study, it was found that 54% of children reported exercising less. In addition, 61% admitted to spending six hours or more a day online. Prolonged screen time and a lack of exercise has been linked to increased headaches.

In order to help children work through the stresses and complications which increase headaches, parents can offer support by returning to a sense of normalcy with a regular routine. Getting children involved in sports teams or other physical activities can help them get the exercise they need. Monitoring screen time can also help. 

As schools prepare to enter the 2022-2023 academic calendar, many districts are focusing on learning recovery, but if children continue to experience headaches and other disruptions this may prove to be difficult. Public schools are becoming increasingly reliant on technology. Students are spending more class time utilizing tablets and computers. They are facing pressure to catch up after falling behind, and some schools are even re-imposing mask mandates.  

While these methods may help, the fact of the matter is that children are experiencing increased headaches in connection to pandemic protocols. School lockdowns led to inactivity, added stress, and mental issues, along with prolonged screen time. A return to in-person learning brought masses of mask mandates and altogether these issues might have caused children physical pain. How each district plans to address and combat this serious ailment is uncertain. 

Social isolation and added stresses are also factors that may cause headaches in children. Youth mental issues have drastically increased throughout the pandemic and have been considered throughout this particular study. Although the research focused mainly on complex triggers, it failed to acknowledge one commonly studied headache factor: prolonged mask usage. 


In February of 2021 a German study noted that of nearly 26,000 children who were forced to wear masks for an average of over 4 hours a day, 53% reported experiencing headaches. In June of 2021 a study focusing on how children tolerated mask-wearing, found that 49% of children began experiencing headaches. Similarly, a study concerning N95 face masks displayed that blood oxygen and CO2 levels were significantly impacted by mask usage resulting in respiratory alkalosis and hypocarbia which caused high levels of headaches.  

As if that weren’t enough, the CDC recently relaxed its COVID recommendations, but this comes just after the United States federal government declared yet another national emergency regarding a virus. Although like COVID-19 monkeypox rarely affects children and is not proving to be a deadly threat to the general public, the precedent for prolonged mandates and lockdown protocols has been set. Parents who are working to give their children a sense of normalcy to combat mental issues and physical ailments (like headaches) brought on by excessive pandemic measures are watchful of how this new development is being handled by lawmakers.