An abdominal migraine is a form of migraine that occurs commonly in children, with or without the headache component of migraine. Abdominal migraines start as early as three years of age and peaks around age 9 for girls and age 14 for boys. Both abdominal and head migraines are hereditary.
People suffering from abdominal migraines often present several symptoms:
Abdominal migraine is a totally different entity from recurrent abdominal pain syndrome. Between attacks, abdominal migraine sufferers
can feel completely well.
Abdominal migraine typically causes recurrent attacks of central abdominal pain, usually around the umbilicus or belly button, lasting for several hours with associated nausea, vomiting and occasionally one sided headache.
The sufferer may become pale and the pulse may be difficult to feel, or even run very slowly. They may also become very flushed.
Like those with migraine, there may be a preceding aura of visual disturbance, flashing lights, numbness or tingling sensation around the mouth, arm or a side of the body, slurred speech, muscle weakness or even paralysis.
The child or adult may become emotionally withdrawn, with altered sleep pattern. There is associated dislike or sensitivity to light and sound too. The pain typically starts in the morning. It is so serious to interfere with day to day life.
In between episodes, they are usually totally free from abdominal pain and feel okay again. The pain typically last for about 2 - 72 hours. In reality, the abdominal pain last for at least four hours, and may keep re-occurring for the next three to four days with symptoms free interval.
The diagnosis of abdominal migraines hinges on running tests to eliminate the possibility that the patient is actually suffering from another ailment presenting similar symptoms. Though painful, in most estimations, an abdominal migraine will be one of the least threatening causes of severe, recurring abdominal pain. Thus, a doctor’s job in diagnosing abdominal migraine is to ensure the patient is not actually suffering from a more dangerous physical problem.
Healthcare professionals use two types of tests to diagnose abdominal migraines:
Much like migraine headaches, the exact cause of abdominal migraine is somewhat a mystery. They may be the result of chemical changes in the body which originate in specific parts of the brain, namely the amygdala, area post-trema and hippocampus. Serotonin and histamines are two of the chemicals thought to be involved in causing the symptoms found in abdominal or stomach migraine.
A high incidence of abdominal migraines have been reported in individuals with neurofibromatosis, especially type one. It is a very common cause of abdominal pain in these patients.
In more than half of children with tummy migraine, there is usually someone in the family who suffers some form of migraine. Stomach migraines are often triggered by:
If a child or adult is suspected to be suffering with abdominal migraine, treatment is usually symptomatic, meaning the healthcare professional will aim to alleviate the symptoms, as no cure for migraines – even abdominal migraines – current exists.
Over the counter pain killer are suitable remedies for the pain if there are no contraindications to taking any of these medicines such as asthma or stomach ulcer (for ibuprofen) or allergies.
Anti-sickness medicines like domperidone have also been found to help minimize vomiting and many of the other symptoms associated with stomach migraine.
Where episodes are recurrent and very troublesome, some patients have found the use of sodium valporate, or pizotifen or nasal sumatriptan (a form of triptans), useful. So too is propanolol and fluoxetine in some other patients (mainly in adults).
Feel free to discuss any of these options with your doctor or health care provider who can either prescribe one or a combination of these to you, or refer you or your child to see a paediatrician with specialist interest in childhood migraines.
can read a real life story of someone
managing abdominal migraines here.