About abdominal migraine in children

What is abdominal migraine in children?

Abdominal migraine in children facts

  • Abdominal migraine is believed to be a variant of migraine that is common in children but rare in adults.
  • Abdominal migraine is characterized by pain in the center of the abdomen that may be severe.
  • Symptoms can last for one hour or up to a several days.
  • Nausea and vomiting may be associated with the pain.
  • Sleep typically brings relief from abdominal migraine. Medications used to treat classic migraine can also be effective, although there is no single treatment that is known to be effective in all patients.
  • Most children with abdominal migraine have a family history of migraine, and most go on to develop migraine as adults.
  • The exact cause of abdominal migraine is poorly understood. It may be related to both neurologic and endocrinologic (hormone) factors.
  • The diagnosis of abdominal migraine can be difficult, and depends upon ruling out other potential causes for the abdominal pain and symptoms. There is no one diagnostic test that confirms the diagnosis.

What is abdominal migraine?

Like adults, children can develop migraines. This can be the same type of condition seen in adults, which is typically occurs with a headache, and is sometimes preceded by an aura. Nausea, vomiting, and photophobia (decreased tolerance to light) can occur. Children also develop some unusual and atypical variations of migraine, not associated with headaches in particular, that are not usually observed in adults. Abdominal migraine is one of these variants.

Abdominal migraine is a condition thought to be related to migraine that is characterized by pain in the abdomen. It is often precipitated by the usual triggers of classic migraine. The pain can be severe, and nausea and vomiting can occur.

Abdominal migraine is rare in adults, but it has been estimated that up to 2% of all children may develop abdominal migraines. Children who have the condition usually go on to develop migraine headaches as adults. Girls are affected more frequently than boys. Abdominal migraine typically occurs for the first time between the ages of 2 and 10.

What are the symptoms for abdominal migraine in children?

As mentioned, abdominal migraine causes Pain in the abdomen that can be severe and debilitating. It is typically located in the middle portion of the belly, often around the umbilicus. Cramping, nausea, and Vomiting can accompany the pain. Pallor (paleness) of the skin is often observed. There may not be associated headache. The symptoms are usually relieved by sleep and can last anywhere from one hour to several days.

What are the causes for abdominal migraine in children?

The cause of abdominal migraine is poorly understood. Abdominal migraine is thought by some researchers to be related to neurologic or endocrinologic changes and may be caused by alterations in the levels of serotonin and histamine in the body. Genetic factors may also be involved as the condition is more common in children who have a family history of migraine. About 60% of children with the condition have a positive family history for migraine.

Triggers for abdominal migraine have been described, similar to triggers for classic migraine. These include chocolate or nitrite-containing foods, stress, and anxiety.

What are the treatments for abdominal migraine in children?

The treatment of abdominal migraine has two components - to reduce symptoms of an acute attack and to prevent or lessen the severity of future episodes. Research to date has not provided sufficient data to firmly establish the role of any particular medication in either treating symptoms or preventing future episodes of abdominal migraine. Still, many patients respond to anti-migraine medications and other medications.

What are the risk factors for abdominal migraine in children?

Foods such as chocolate, food with monosodium glutamate (MSG), and processed meats with nitrites might trigger abdominal migraines in some people.

Swallowing a lot of air may also trigger them or set off similar tummy symptoms. It can cause bloating and trouble eating.

Is there a cure/medications for abdominal migraine in children?

Medications like Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may stop an attack if given early enough. If that doesn't work and the child is over 5, the doctor may recommend triptans like rizatriptan (Maxalt) and zolmitriptan (Zomig) that are available as tablets that dissolve in the mouth, and sumatriptan (Imitrex Nasal Spray, Onzetra Xsail Nasal Powder, Tosymra Nasal Spray) and zolmitriptan (Zomig Nasal Spray) that are available in nasal forms.

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