Definition

What is an abdominal migraine?

As the name suggests, abdominal migraines make your abdomen (belly) ache instead. They aren’t headaches. But they often happen as a reaction to the same triggers as migraine headaches. They can hurt a lot and cause nausea, cramps, and often vomiting.

Kids whose family members get migraines are more likely to get abdominal migraines.

And kids who have abdominal migraines generally get migraine headaches when they get older. Abdominal migraine typically occurs in infants, toddlers, children and teens. Abdominal migraines usually happen in young people who will later suffer from migraine attacks. However, severe abdominal pain can occur with migraine attacks in adults as well. Sometimes they are called stomach migraines or migraines of the stomach.

Abdominal migraine isn’t often diagnosed in adults. Therefore, when adult men and women experience the symptoms, other syndromes or disorders are considered first, such as irritable bowel syndrome, reflux or lactose intolerance.

How common are abdominal migraines?

Some studies estimate 1 percent to 4 percent of children suffer from abdominal migraine; while others say that about 10 percent of children experience recurrent abdominal pain at some point in childhood. Children with abdominal migraine usually have a family history of migraine. 65 percent of cases of abdominal migraine or cyclic vomiting had a family migraine history.

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of abdominal migraines?

There are a great number of signs and symptoms of abdominal migraine. Initial signs and symptoms of abdominal migraine is that it will hurt in the center of your child’s body or around their belly button (not their sides), what doctors call midline abdominal pain. Some other signs and symptoms of this condition may include:

  • Feel queasy or throw up
  • Be pale or flushed
  • Yawn, be drowsy, or have little energy
  • Lose their appetite or be unable to eat
  • Have dark shadows under their eyes
  • Abdominal migraines are often sudden and quite severe. They can hit without any warning signs. The pain may go away after an hour, or it may last as long as 3 days.

When should I see my doctor?

Early diagnosis and treatment can stop this condition from worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.

If you have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes abdominal migraines?

Until now we don’t know their exact cause of abdominal migraine. One theory is that changes in the levels of two compounds your body makes, histamine and serotonin, are responsible. Experts think that being upset or worried can affect them.

Foods such as chocolate, Chinese food with monosodium glutamate (MSG), and processed meats with nitrites might trigger abdominal migraines.

Swallowing a lot of air may also trigger them or set off similar tummy symptoms. It can cause bloating and trouble eating.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for abdominal migraines?

You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:

  • Most children with abdominal migraine have a family history of migraine, and most go on to develop migraine as adults.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are abdominal migraines diagnosed?

It seems hard to diagnose the condition because kids often have trouble telling the difference between an abdominal migraine and ordinary stomachaches, stomach flu, or other problems with their belly and guts.

Because abdominal migraines tend to run in families, the doctor will ask about relatives who have migraine headaches.

Then he’ll try to rule out other causes for stomach pain. And he’ll see how closely your child’s symptoms match a specific list that migraine experts have come up with.

If your doctor suspects that you experience abdominal migraines, he/she will perform an exam thoroughly to determine this condition, such as X-rays or ultrasound, etc.

How are abdominal migraines treated?

Sometimes, simply knowing what the problem is makes it easier to deal with.

Because we don’t know much about abdominal migraines, doctors may treat them like other migraines. But they usually don’t prescribe drugs unless the symptoms are very bad or happen a lot.

Medications like rizatriptan (Maxalt) and sumatriptan (Imitrex), called triptans, haven’t been approved for children, though older kids may have luck taking sumatriptan as a nasal spray.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage abdominal migraines?

Some tips that you should follow:

  • With their parents’ and doctor’s help, kids with abdominal migraines may be able to figure out what triggers them. Keep a diary: Note the date and time they get it, what foods they had eaten earlier, what they were doing before it happened, if they took any medication recently, and if there’s anything going on in their lives that could be making them stressed or anxious.
  • If a food triggers abdominal migraines, they can try to avoid eating it. But that may not work for everyone.
  • Kids who have abdominal migraines should eat a nutritious diet with plenty of fiber. Other healthy habits, like daily exercise and getting enough sleep, and teaching them how to manage their emotions and deal with problems, can help, too.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: June 25, 2017 | Last Modified: June 25, 2017

Want to live your best life?
Get the Hello Doktor Daily newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.