What is an Abdominal Migraine?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Abdominal migraines are unusual types of migraine headaches that may or may not include head pain in the range of symptoms. Instead, much of the discomfort with a migraine of this type is centered around the abdomen and stomach area. An abdominal migraine is more likely to affect adolescents and small children rather than adults.

The symptoms associated with an abdominal migraine may vary in type and intensity. Common manifestations of the migraine include general pain in the abdomen that range anywhere from low-grade pain that seems to come and go to sharp pains that are not unlike those caused by muscle spasms. Nausea is another common sign of this type of migraine condition. At times, the pain and nausea may be so intense that the individual also experiences short periods of vomiting and dry heaving. There is also the possibility of diarrhea.

In most instances of abdominal migraine activity, there will be a recurrence of the symptoms at least once a month. Often, the duration of the pain and related discomforts will be anywhere from an hour to four hours. During that time, the individual may suffer all the known symptoms concurrently, or gradually wade through several symptoms until the migraine subsides.


Properly diagnosing an abdominal migraine requires an understanding of the medical history of the immediate family. If parents are known to experience migraines on a regular basis, there is an increased risk to children of experiencing an abdominal migraine. Since several of the symptoms can also indicate health issues that have nothing to do with head pain, it is important to inform the physician of any incidence of migraines on either side of the family. This is usually enough to alert the physician to the possibility that the various types of abdominal discomfort are associated with a migraine even when the patient appears to not have any headache pain.

While addressing the symptoms is an important part of providing the patient with relief, the migraine itself must also be treated. Depending on the severity of the pain and the types of symptoms manifested, a physician will determine what type of medication and other treatments would be most effective. Along with medication to provide relief from any headache and abdominal pain present, the doctor is also likely to consider diet issues that may trigger the migraine, or recommend some type of relaxation therapy to help the child cope with the discomfort. Fortunately, the frequency of abdominal migraine attacks tends to lessen as the child ages, and are likely to vanish by the time he or she reaches adulthood.



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