Doctors don’t know exactly what causes abdominal migraines. It could share some of the same risk factors as migraine headaches.
One of the theories is that abdominal migraines stem from a problem in the connection between the brain and GI tract. One very small study also found a link between this condition and slower movement of digested food through the intestines.
Abdominal migraines are more common in children who have close relatives with migraine headaches. One study found that more than 90 percent of kids with this condition had a parent or sibling with migraines.
More girls than boys get abdominal migraines.
Certain factors seem to trigger abdominal migraines, including stress and excitement. Emotional changes might lead to the release of chemicals that set off migraine symptoms.
Other possible triggers include:
You may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:
The main symptom of an abdominal migraine is pain around the belly button that feels dull or achy. The intensity of the pain can range from moderate to severe.
Along with the pain, kids will have these symptoms:
Each migraine attack lasts between one hour and three days. In between attacks, kids are healthy and have no symptoms.
The symptoms of an abdominal migraine are similar to those of many other childhood gastrointestinal (GI) conditions — that is, those involving the digestive system. The difference is that abdominal migraine symptoms come and go with days to months of no symptoms. Also, each episode of abdominal pain is very similar.
Doctors don’t have a test specifically for abdominal migraines. Your doctor will start by asking about your child’s medical history and your family’s medical history. Children with abdominal migraines often have family members who get migraines.
Then the doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms. Abdominal migraines are diagnosed in children who meet these criteria:
The doctor will also perform a physical exam.
Though usually ruled out by your child’s history and physical exam, tests such as ultrasound or endoscopy can be done to look for conditions that have similar symptoms, such as:
Some of the same medicines used to treat migraine headaches also help with abdominal migraines, including:
Other medicines used to prevent migraines may prevent abdominal migraines if your child takes them every day. These include:
Be sure your child is getting enough sleep, eating regular meals throughout the day, and drinking plenty of fluids (without caffeine).
If your child is vomiting, give them extra fluids to prevent dehydration.
Certain foods — such as chocolate and processed foods — may set off abdominal migraines. Keep a diary of your child’s diet and migraine attacks to help you identify their trigger foods and avoid them in the future.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relieve stress, which is thought to be another cause of abdominal migraines.
Some tips that you should follow: