What is Abdominal Migraine? 9 Symptoms to Know

You may be familiar with or have even had a migraine headache, periodic assaults of pulsing pain frequently affecting one side of the brain.

However, abdominal migraines are uncommon and poorly understood. This disorder, most frequently diagnosed in youngsters, causes abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. It can cause absences from school, emotional anguish, and disruptions to daily routines.

Migraines in the abdomen are not headaches. As their name implies, they instead give you a stomachache.

However, they frequently result from the exact causes that cause migraine headaches. They frequently result in vomiting, nausea, and severe pain.

Children who have migraines in their families are more prone to abdominal migraines. Additionally, older children who suffer from stomach migraines frequently develop migraine headaches.

An abdominal migraine impacts an individual’s stomach. Although specialists are unsure of the precise etiology of stomach migraines, patients can utilize medication to manage symptoms.

Contrary to other forms of migraine, abdominal migraine rarely results in headaches. Instead, abdominal pain from an abdominal migraine usually occurs.

The definition of abdominal migraine, potential causes, and treatments will all be covered in this article. Continue reading.

abdominal migraine
By silviarita / Pixabay Copyright 2022

1. Abdominal Migraine

The medical disease known as abdominal migraine is unrelated to the typically discussed migraines characterized by severe headaches.

In reality, there at all when it comes to abdominal migraine. Instead, the person has significant stomach or abdominal discomfort since the abdominal region is impacted.

Although abdominal migraines are typically reported in youngsters, adults have also been known to experience them in rare instances.

Abdominal migraines can be excruciating and incapacitating, and their triggers are often the same as those for migraine headaches. Along with intense abdominal pain, it frequently results in nausea, vomiting, and perhaps even cramps.

Abdominal migraines are similar to migraine headaches in that they are marked by intense episodes of abdominal pain lasting two hours or longer, followed by protracted intervals without symptoms.

These youngsters frequently wind up in the emergency room, when parents and medical professionals may suspect appendicitis or the need for additional urgent surgery due to the child’s excruciating discomfort.

Since cyclic vomiting and abdominal migraines are closely related, around half of the children with abdominal migraines also meet the criterion.

1.1. What is Abdominal Migraine

An important, frequent, and under-recognized factor in children’s recurrent stomach pain is abdominal migraine. It predicts adult migraine and may accompany or come after other types of migraine.

An accurate diagnosis of abdominal migraine enables proper therapy and prevents needless inquiries and ineffective treatments. Acute and preventative therapies are available, despite the scant database.

1.1.1 Causes of Abdominal Migraine

It is an episodic illness on the migraine spectrum characterized by intermittent, severe stomach pain that interferes with daily activities.

Anorexia, nausea, vomiting, sensory disturbance (photophobia, phonophobia), pallor, and other migrainous symptoms are present along with the pain.

Finding the etiology of abdominal migraine is difficult because there isn’t a physical issue with the belly.

The mechanisms causing stomach migraines are still a mystery to scientists. Most people with abdominal migraine have a personal or family history of migraine headaches, so there appears to be a genetic component to the condition.

In addition to a routine physical examination, a stable body mass index, and expected developmental milestones, it is crucial that the patient is symptom-free and healthy in between episodes.

Abdominal migraine has been linked to specific alterations in the gut-brain axis, vascular dysregulation, modifications in the central nervous system, and hereditary variables.

It is unclear why some people are more prone to this tightly innervated brain-gut contact or whether this interacts with the trigeminovascular system, which is a significant factor in migraine headaches.

However, regional or central abnormalities in blood flow may be significant, as they are for other types of migraine. There is little evidence to support vasospasm of the small gut arteries as the origin of the periumbilical discomfort.

Strong familial relationships suggest a significant genetic component to abdominal and other migraines, particularly for alterations affecting cell membrane transport.

By mahbubhasan2550 / Pixabay Copyright 2022

1.2. Abdominal Migraine Triggers

Medical professionals do not fully understand abdominal migraines. There may be some risk factors in common with migraines.

Abdominal migraines are more common in kids who have close relatives who get migraines. Stomach migraines affect more women than men.

Excitation and stress seem to be two such triggers for stomach migraines. Chemicals that cause migraine symptoms may be released due to emotional disturbances.

Other possible triggers cause include:

  • Processed meats, chocolate, and other foods contain nitrates and other toxins.
  • Slurring much air in the mouth
  • Exhaustion
  • Feeling dizzy

2. Symptoms of Abdominal Migraine?

Severe abdominal pain is the primary symptom of abdominal migraine. The pain may be localized to the belly button or radiate over the entire abdomen.

Cycles in the disease are what give rise to abdominal migraines. In other words, people who suffer from stomach migraines often feel OK but occasionally encounter symptoms.

The occurrence of moderately to severely uncomfortable stomach discomfort lasting one to 72 hours is the primary symptom of abdominal migraine.

Other signs can include pale skin, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. An abdominal migraine’s primary symptom is a dull or aching discomfort around the belly button.

The abdominal pain might vary in intensity from mild to severe. Kids will have the following symptoms in addition to the pain:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite decline
  • Light skin

Every migraine attack might last anywhere from one hour to three days. In between episodes, children are healthy and symptom-free.

A lot of other children’s gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, or conditions affecting the digestive system, have abdominal migraine symptoms.

The distinction is that abdominal migraine symptoms can last from days to months before returning. Additionally, every instance of stomach pain is pretty similar.

The stomach area where the pain from an abdominal migraine typically occurs is around the belly button. It may be mild to severe and feel like a dull discomfort or soreness.

Additionally, there may be pallor, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Light and noise sensitivity are additional migraine symptoms that some kids experience.

Other abdominal pain symptoms could include:

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Reduced appetite
  4. Light skin
  5. Fatigue
  6. Intolerance to sound or light
  7. Headaches
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Leg discomfort

3. Treatment Options for Abdominal Migraine

Sometimes the solution is as simple as understanding what the issue is.

Abdominal migraines are notoriously tricky to diagnose because so many other illnesses could be the source of the symptoms.

When someone experiences stomach pain unrelated to any apparent functional or structural variations in the abdomen, an abdominal migraine may be the cause.

When a person has symptoms distinct from gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal migraine is significantly more likely to occur.

Abdominal migraines are not well understood. Therefore, clinicians may treat them similarly to other migraines. However, doctors rarely recommend medications unless the symptoms are severe or occur frequently.

When symptoms first appear, medications used to treat other types of migraine can also aid in treating stomach migraine.

When a person has been throwing up frequently or for an extended period, treatment (fluids administered through a tiny IV) may be employed.

Your doctor can recommend preventive therapy, such as medication, vitamins, cognitive behavioral therapy, and dietary changes if stomach migraine attacks occur regularly.

There are several possible treatments for abdominal migraines.

By Vector-Images / Pixabay Copyright 2022

3.1. Antiemetics:

Metoclopramide and domperidone are a few examples of such drugs. These anti-vomiting medicines may be helpful if someone is feeling queasy or sick to their stomach.

3.2. Hydration Treatment:

This replaces the water that is lost due to vomiting or diarrhea.

3.3. Acetaminophen and Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs):

Research on the effectiveness of these drugs for treating abdominal migraine is contradictory. If someone takes them as soon as symptoms start, they might assist.

3.4. Ergotamine and triptans:

These could delay the onset of stomach migraines and alleviate their pain.

3.5. Beta-blockers:

Beta-blockers may lower blood pressure and lessen the likelihood of developing abdominal migraine.

4. How is Abdominal Migraine Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of abdominal migraine might be challenging. Years may pass before a person is diagnosed despite having symptoms.

There is no test available right now to identify abdominal migraine. Your doctor will determine a diagnosis based on specific criteria that describe the kind, frequency, and severity of abdominal migraine symptoms.

Usually, the diagnosis won’t be made until all other potential causes of abdominal pain have been ruled out. A medical expert can identify someone with abdominal migraine by examining their symptoms.

They might enquire about the person’s location and intensity of pain. Additionally, they may ask a person about any family history of migraine.

Similar to no test to diagnose migraine headaches, there is no definitive test to identify stomach migraines.

The diagnosis of abdominal migraine is based on a patient’s symptoms rather than a test. To be determined to have the condition, you must:

  1. Have at least five episodes of abdominal discomfort, characterized by a dull, muscular ache near the belly button.
  2. Possess neither other gastrointestinal diseases nor gastrointestinal symptoms in between attacks.

4.1. How Is Abdominal Migraine Diagnosed in Children?

Once a child is identified as having abdominal migraine, there are typically two types of treatment: symptom relief during an episode and episode prevention.

Since children have difficulty distinguishing between an abdominal migraine and common stomachaches, the stomach flu, or other stomach issues, diagnosing them can be challenging.

The doctor will inquire about any family members who suffer migraine headaches because stomach migraines frequently run in families.

They’ll then try to rule out any further reasons for stomach pain. They’ll also check to determine if your child’s symptoms closely resemble a list of specific ones that migraine specialists have developed.

There is no specific test available to doctors for abdominal migraines. Your doctor will begin by inquiring about your child’s and your family’s medical background.

Families with migraine sufferers frequently have children who get abdominal migraines.

The doctor will then bring up your child’s symptoms. The following children have been diagnosed with abdominal migraines:

  • At least five episodes of 1 to 72-hour-long stomach pain
  • Dull discomfort around the belly button that may range in intensity from mild to severe
  • At least two of the following signs: sickness, vomiting, loss of appetite, and pale complexion
  • No signs of a different GI disorder or kidney illness

4.2. What Parents Need to Know about Abdominal Migraine?

The excruciating agony that abdominal migraines cause during an attack is one of the parents’ main worries when they have children who suffer from the ailment.

Sometimes they are reluctant to take the child to the doctor because they believe it to be “just a small stomach illness” or “stomach flu.”

To rule out other, more severe issues, your child should contact a doctor if they have significant abdominal pain, mainly if it occurs more than once.

Even though the pain comes and goes, many parents worry that it is so intense during an episode that it frequently interferes with the child’s everyday activities, including school.

Although there is no known treatment for stomach migraines, many kids outgrow them by the time they are teenagers.

The more details you can give the doctor about your child’s symptoms, the sooner they can start developing a successful treatment plan. A migraine diary is crucial because of this.

4.3. How to Prevent Migraine Attacks

Because the origins of abdominal migraine are unknown, prevention might be challenging. However, avoiding triggers can help a person prevent episodes of abdominal migraine. Each person may have different motivations.

By keeping a diary, a person might be able to pinpoint their triggers. They can use this to identify behaviors or emotions that might trigger an episode.

Medication that aids in preventing episodes of abdominal migraine is also available.

Avoiding your triggers is the ideal way to stop abdominal migraines from occurring. This could entail controlling stress, sleeping on a regular schedule, and avoiding foods that might trigger an attack.

Ask your doctor about drugs that can prevent abdominal migraines if you experience frequent, severe episodes despite lifestyle modifications.

Antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and blood pressure meds are some of the same drugs used to treat migraines.

4.4. When to See Your Healthcare Provider

You should consult your doctor if you think you suffer from abdominal migraines. Abdominal migraines can be prevented and treated so that they don’t regularly interfere with your daily activities.

Additionally, because stomach migraines increase your risk for headaches, it’s essential to let your doctor know about the condition so they can monitor your progress and suggest the best course of action.

If an individual has an abdominal migraine that is accompanied by more severe symptoms, such as:

  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • violent vomiting
  • a chest aches
  • muscular tremor
  • fever
  • absence of vision

5. Abdominal Migraine vs. Migraine Headaches

Just like migraine headaches, abdominal migraines are assumed to be brought on by neurological problems. The brain-gut connection, often known as the interaction between the brain and the gut (the stomach and intestines), is well documented.

A neurological component affects the head and the belly, but doctors are unsure what causes headaches or abdominal migraines.

The neurological system is the common denominator between the causes of an abdominal migraine and a migraine headache.

Adults with migraine headaches typically have pain on one side of the brain.

People who suffer from migraine headaches may notice that they are sensitive to light and sound and have an aura, which may include vision alterations.

Abdominal migraine is a dull, unbearable pain in the abdomen, generally around the belly button. In both situations, the pain is terrible enough to hinder a person from usually lying about their regular activities.

Because migraines are cyclical, attacks only occasionally occur. An individual with either type of migraine usually feels normal in between bouts.

Although the symptoms of abdominal migraine in adults differ significantly from those of migraine headaches, the diagnosis and therapy are reasonably similar.

Adults tend to get migraine headaches more frequently, whereas kids between 3 and 10 are more likely to get stomach migraines. Adults can suffer from them sporadically and occasionally in conjunction with migraine headaches.

By mohamed_hassan / Pixabay Copyright 2022

Suggested Reading- What’s The Difference Between a Headache and A Migraine: An Amazing 101 Guide

6. Final Words

A form of migraine that primarily affects children is an abdominal migraine. Unlike migraine headaches, the discomfort occurs in the abdomen rather than the brain.

Around the belly button in the center of the abdomen is where abdominal migraine pain is typically felt. It may be mild to severe and is frequently described as “dull” or “simply sore.”

Along with the pain, those impacted may also experience nausea, vomiting, and a loss of appetite.

The first whole thing that comes to mind when you suffer from a stomachache is not a migraine. In truth, many people aren’t aware that adult abdominal migraine is an illness.

However, if you experience chronic, cyclical, unexplained stomach discomfort, you should consult a physician about abdominal migraines, especially if migraines run in your family.

There is no need to let this illness interfere with your life because medications are available to help prevent and interrupt stomach migraines.

By seeking professional advice and therapy, you can get back to the daily activities you like.


Apeksha Soni

About Author

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like

What Is High Grade Dysplasia

What is High-Grade Dysplasia: 4 Different Stages Explained

What is high-grade dysplasia? High-grade dysplasia is the precancerous changes in the growing cell of the esophagus. There are two

How to Sleep with Neck Pain? 3 Best Sleeping Positions!

Sleeping can be difficult and painful when you have neck pain. However, you can protect your neck while you sleep!