Abdominal migraine is a type of migraine that affects a person’s stomach. Rather than headaches, it causes moderate to severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms lasting 1–72 hours.

Unlike other types of migraine, abdominal migraine does not usually cause headaches. Instead, abdominal migraine pain tends to occur in the stomach.

Abdominal migraine usually affects children. However, some adults also experience abdominal migraine.

This article will look into what abdominal migraine is, its possible triggers, and how to treat it.

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Abdominal migraine pain can feel like an ache or cramp in a person’s stomach. This pain typically affects the area around the middle of the stomach or belly button.

The pain from an abdominal migraine can be moderate to severe.

Other symptoms of abdominal migraine may include:

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, an abdominal migraine episode can last between 1⁠–72 hours. A person does not have any symptoms between episodes.

Experts are currently unsure about the exact causes of abdominal migraine. Many people who have abdominal migraine find they occur without any warning.

Research from 2018 suggests that some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing abdominal migraine. However, further research is necessary to confirm these findings.

Although the cause of abdominal migraine is not clear, it may have certain triggers.

Examples of possible abdominal migraine triggers include:

  • stress
  • hunger
  • lack of sleep
  • motion sickness
  • travel
  • flickering lights
  • missing a meal
  • certain foods

Research from 2016 states that there is no evidence-based treatment for abdominal migraine. Treatments may instead aim to reduce symptoms of abdominal migraine.

Treatment options for abdominal migraine may include:

  • Antiemetics: Some examples of these medications include metoclopramide and domperidone. These are anti-sickness medications that may help if a person is experiencing nausea or vomiting.
  • Hydration therapy: This helps replace water lost through vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen: There is conflicting research regarding the usefulness of these medications for treating abdominal migraine. However, they may help if a person takes them soon after the onset of symptoms.
  • Triptans and ergotamines: These may help prevent the onset of abdominal migraine and treat the associated pain.
  • Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers may reduce a person’s blood pressure and help prevent abdominal migraine.

A person may also find that lying in a dark, quiet room helps with abdominal migraine symptoms. Additionally, lifestyle changes may be able to prevent migraine attacks. These changes can include:

  • getting enough sleep
  • drinking enough water
  • eating nutritious meals regularly
  • exercising frequently
  • managing stress

Abdominal migraine can be difficult to diagnose. A person may have symptoms for several years before receiving a diagnosis.

A healthcare professional can diagnose a person with abdominal migraine by assessing their symptoms. They may ask the person about the location of their pain and how severe it is. Additionally, they may ask a person about any family history of migraine.

A healthcare professional may request further tests to rule out conditions with similar symptoms, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Abdominal migraine can be difficult to prevent, as its causes are unclear. However, a person may help prevent abdominal migraine episodes by avoiding triggers. These triggers can vary from person to person.

A person may be able to identify their triggers by keeping a diary. This can help them identify activities or feelings that might bring on an episode.

A person can also use medications that help prevent abdominal migraine episodes from occurring.

A person should seek immediate medical attention if their abdominal migraine occurs with more severe symptoms, such as:

  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • severe vomiting
  • chest pain
  • muscle weakness
  • fever
  • loss of vision

Although it is uncommon, abdominal migraine can continue into adulthood. Some doctors consider persistent abdominal migraine to be an indication of future migraine episodes.

Around 60% of children who have abdominal migraine no longer experience them once they reach their teens. However, the majority of children who have abdominal migraine go on to have typical migraine episodes as adults.

Abdominal migraine is not dangerous. However, it can be distressing or debilitating. If a person has concerns about their abdominal migraine, they should speak with a doctor.

Abdominal migraine affects a person’s stomach. It can cause moderate to severe stomach pain and cramping.

Abdominal migraine typically occurs in children and stops during adolescence. Sometimes, however, abdominal migraine persists into adulthood.

Many treatments are available for abdominal migraine symptoms, such as over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers.

Although it is unclear what causes them, abdominal migraine episodes can have several possible triggers. These triggers can include a lack of sleep or certain foods. A person can help to prevent abdominal migraine episodes by avoiding these triggers.

If a person has concerns about their abdominal migraine, they can speak with a doctor.