abdominal migraine


We might have commonly heard of abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, and migraine headaches. But, today let’s see what exactly is abdominal migraine and its unique trait like its name.

The ones affected by abdominal migraines are mostly children. The pain is in the belly and not in the head like migraine headaches.

Kids are frequently victimized by abdominal migraines.  Adults are rarely affected. This type of migraine occurs in children amidst 1 % to 4% indicating it as uncommon.

Abdominal migraines can be misunderstood with Crohn’s disease and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) which are common causes of stomach aches in infants.  

Distinguishable symptoms of abdominal migraine:

Pain around the belly button that feels achy or dull is the leading symptom of this type of migraine. The potency of the ache ranges from moderate to severe.

Kids have the following indications additional to the pain:

  • Pale skin
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The unique trait of abdominal migraine is that it occurs now and then, at irregular intervals.  Kids have no symptoms and stay healthy between attacks. Where each migraine attack may last between 1 hour to 3 days.

Though it is similar to other known gastrointestinal tract conditions, it differs by showing no symptoms between the attacks. Every attack has similar abdominal pain.

Source leading to this: 

The exact cause is yet to be discovered. One of the theories is this type of migraine occurs when there is a change in the levels of body compounds,  serotonin, and histamine. They are affected when a person is worried or stressed say, experts.

  • Foods with monosodium glutamate, food like chocolates and nitrate-filled processed meats might cause abdominal migraines in some.                                                        
  • When a lot of air is swallowed it triggers trouble eating and bloating. When the compounds are disturbed similar symptoms are shown.


It is quite complicated to diagnose as kids can’t differentiate between stomach flu, ordinary stomach aches, other belly problems, and abdominal migraines.  

  • The doctor will inquire about relatives with migraine headaches as abdominal migraines run in families.
  • They will try to figure out alternative causes for stomach pain. Then a conclusion is made by matching the child’s symptoms with a symptoms list of migraines that experts have come up with.

Treatment options

Few medicines utilized to treat migraine headaches also help with abdominal migraines, they are:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil)
  • anti-nausea medicines
  • triptan migraine drugs, such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) and zolmitriptan (Maxalt). Approved triptan drugs by the U.S. for children over 6 years old.

Other daily use medicines to prevent this are as follows:

  • propranolol (Hemangeol, Inderal XL, InnoPran XL)
  • topiramate (Topamax, Qudexy XR, Trokendi XR), which is FDA approved for children over 12 

Enough sleep, eating regular meals, and drinking plenty of liquids is also a must. If vomiting occurs, give them liquids to avoid dehydration.

To avoid triggers, noting down the child’s diet is necessary. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help decrease stress, as it’s a major cause of abdominal migraines.


Avoiding triggers with their guardians and physician’s help. Keep a record of the timing, food, medication, stress level & what they were doing when they got the pain.

Avoiding food triggers causing abdominal migraines helps.

Few prescriptions may reduce how severe episodes are / how often a child gets them.

Kids having abdominal migraines should eat a nutritious diet, with lots of fiber. Other healthful habits, like exercise and getting enough sleep, & educating them how to maintain their emotions and deal with problems, can help.


Abdominal migraines are critical enough to make children skip school. This condition is mistaken for other GI diseases. Misdiagnosis leads to unnecessary procedures.


Since the cause is unknown, finding the triggers is key to prevent this. Follow your doctor’s advice. If you face any symptoms, approach medical ASAP. This condition might be very severe. Treatment helps with pain management.

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