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Abdominal Migraines: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

23 September, 2020 Riya Vaja

Abdominal Migraine is a variant of migraine, that is characterized by pain in the center of the abdomen. It is not the same as a headache and is common in children aged 5-9 years.

Abdominal migraines are recognized by intense episodes of abdominal pain that may last for two or more hours. Although most do not experience any symptoms between the attacks, each of them is similar and can hurt a lot causing mild to severe pain around the belly button region.

It is followed by long hours of nausea and vomiting, which makes a person feel physically drained out. Although abdominal migraines are seen mainly in children, they can occur in adults as well.

Symptoms of this type of Migraine

The primary symptoms of abdominal migraines include intense belly pain for several hours. In addition, you can look for symptoms such as:

  • Noticeable pale skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness and fatigue
  • Headache
  • Screaming and nonfunctional

These symptoms can occur differently in different individuals ranging from moderate to severe. Also, such symptoms can be a warning sign for many gastrointestinal conditions, I.e., medical conditions relating to the digestive system. If you have experienced 3-5 frequent episodes of abdominal migraines, you should seek a doctor for help.

Causes and Triggers of Migraines

Although doctors are still in search of the exact cause behind abdominal migraines, it could possibly share the same triggers and risk factors as that of migraine headaches. This is because researchers believe that there is a strong connection between the gut and the brain. Therefore, the following triggers often lead to migraines whether abdominal or head:

Foods that can trigger migraines:

  • Chocolate

  • Citrus fruits
  • Processed meat and fast foods
  • Preserved meats
  • Alcohol

Other triggers:

  • Persistent stress
  • Excitement
  • Exhaustion
  • Swallowing excessive amounts of air
  • Motion sickness

Prevalence of Abdominal Migraines

According to a recent study, 58% of children out of 888, were diagnosed with abdominal migraines. Out of which, 22% were boys and 38% were girls. Therefore, the risk of developing abdominal migraines is slightly higher in girls. Further studies revealed that the symptoms had started in almost all children from the first year of their life. 

Attacks of abdominal pain seemed to occur 14 times a year that can last up to 17 hours on an average mean scale. The reports confirmed the high prevalence of headaches (66%) and abdominal pain (70%) in children between 5-15 of age. Also, all the affected children possessed a family history of migraines or a personal history of migraine headaches.     

How are they diagnosed?

The criteria for the diagnosis of abdominal or childhood migraine is as follows:

  1. The pain is tiresome and colicky in nature.
  2. Poorly localized or periumbilical
  3. At least 5 attacks lasting 4-72 hours in adults and 2-48 hours in children 
  4. Linked with Anorexia, nausea, pallor, or vomiting
  5. Each attack lasting for at least an hour.
  6. No symptoms between attacks.           

The doctor will study all these factors before heading towards any conclusion. Along with this, abdominal ultrasound and endoscopy techniques are used to check for any other potential causes for the pain. The doctor may further take into account the family history for migraines of the infected individual. Based on all these investigations, he will opt for a suitable treatment for your condition.  

Treatment & Prevention of Migraine

Whenever a doctor treats this condition, their main focus is on relieving the symptoms during the attack and preventing future attacks. Generally, the medications used for migraine headaches help to treat abdominal migraines as well. 3MEDS, the best online pharmacy in India, provides you a list of all the suggested medications that help treat this condition:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve the pain.
  • Anti-nausea medicines
  • Triptans such as sumatriptan (lmitrex) and zolmitriptan (Maxalt)

Furthermore, using medicines like pizotifen, flunarizine, topiramate, cyproheptadine, and propranolol helps prevent any such types of migraines if consumed daily. Consult a doctor if you are prone to allergies and want to know if these medicines go well with your current health condition.


Abdominal migraines need not be severe all the time. They are very much curable if you identify the symptoms early and take the necessary precautions to manage the condition well. The best way to lower your risk of developing such migraines is to avoid everything that triggers you, whether it is stress or a food product. Moreover, if you still experience abdominal migraines, consider buying medicines online that will help cure the discomfort.