High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can be a dangerous condition if left untreated or dealt with incorrectly.

Of course, when we think about high blood pressure, we almost always consider it as something developed over a lifetime of accumulated risk factors such as poor diet, smoking, or inadequate physical exercise. This tends to shape our perception of high blood pressure as a condition only experienced by adults, particularly those in or past middle age.

This understanding, though, is inherently flawed.

Though it rarely happens, children can also suffer from high blood pressure. In fact, Kids Health reports that approximately three percent of all children suffer from the disorder. It is critical to develop an understanding of what causes the condition, how to recognize the symptoms, and how to treat the condition so you can limit its negative consequences on your child and family.

Recognizing hypertension in children

According to Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure rarely causes outwardly noticeable symptoms. Once your child is three years old, you should be having his or her blood pressure checked regularly as part of visits to the pediatrician or general practitioner. One of the benefits of having a doctor check your child's blood pressure, as opposed to doing it yourself at home, is that the doctor will have a frame of reference into what other similarly aged children's blood pressure levels are. If your child is falling above the 95th percentile of blood pressure for children of similar age, weight, and height, then there may be some cause for concern.

Causes of high blood pressure in children

If there is a documented history of high blood pressure and hypertension in your family line, consider having your children checked for the condition at a young age. If your kids are already a little older and entering adolescence, the best indication of their risk level will be lifestyle factors. Speak with your children about the dangers of unhealthy diets, smoking, and lack of exercise, and be sure to encourage healthful practices in all aspects of their lives.

Treating high blood pressure in children

Making changes to the lifestyle of your children, such as improving the health of their diet and ensuring that they regularly engage in exercise, will usually be enough to help control high blood pressure. In more serious cases, however, a treatment plan involving regular medication may be necessary to counteract the condition. Consult with your child's physician about the best course of action for your child.