Stomach migraines also called abdominal migraines, are an abdominal disorder characterised by many of the same symptoms as a headache migraine. The main difference between the two migraines is the presence or lack of head pain. Stomach migraines are never accompanied by head pain or aching.
What is a Stomach Migraine?
Stomach migraines are abdominal pain that lasts from one to two days in the absence of any other digestive cause. These abdominal attacks come on without warning and subside just as naturally. The pain is never brought on by diet, activity, or other illness. Another key feature of an abdominal migraine is its frequency or pattern. Stomach migraines occur at least one or two times per month, follow a similar pattern in symptom onset, and feature an intense pain that interferes with normal activity. Between attacks of abdominal migraines the individual is healthy and completely symptom free.
Common Symptoms of a Stomach Migraine
There are eight symptoms that are most characteristic of stomach migraines. These symptoms include severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhoea, vision problems (such as sensitivity to light), dizziness, and fever. In some cases sufferers may also complain of an increased sensitivity to sound and a general feeling of soreness of the body. Some individuals have also reported experiencing a flushing of the face, or a loss of colour to the face, also known as pallor.
Since the symptoms of this disorder are very similar to the symptoms of influenza and other digestive disorders it is important to track your symptoms for the appearance of a pattern. Once a pattern has been established you will need to make an appointment to discuss your symptoms with a doctor for diagnosis.
Once symptoms develop the most common, and most effective, way to find relief involves resting. Individuals who relax in a dark, quiet room seem to find relief more quickly than those who are exposed to light, sound, or other stimulation. Doctors are also hopeful about prescription treatment. Recent studies have shown that two different drugs, Propranolol and Pizotifen, may be effective for controlling the symptoms of stomach migraines.
Who's at Risk for Stomach Migraines?
The onset of stomach migraines is most commonly seen in the early childhood years. Most sufferers are diagnosed before puberty begins, however some cases do develop during the teen years and even into young adulthood. When stomach migraines begin in early childhood the symptoms seem to reach a peak of severity and duration between the ages of ten and twelve years. After that the symptoms tend to decrease as time goes on and disappear completely by adulthood. In some cases, however, the abdominal migraines stop but are replaced with head migraines.
Both males and females are equally at risk for developing abdominal migraines, however family history does seem to play an important role in the formation of the disorder. Stomach migraines are more commonly inherited from the mother so if a woman suffered from stomach migraines as a child the chance that her children will also develop them increases greatly.
I am 59 years old and I suffer from migraines as well as abdominal migraines. I was 37 when I had my first migraine imediatly upon being injured at work. I was diagnosed Dec 2015. My mother nor her mother or any other family members suffer from migraines. And nobody has abdominal. My first migraine lasted three months. And then 20-25 days a month. With three or four abdominal migraines thrown in each month. At fifty nine I still have to many of each but things have slowed down in the last year or two.My last one, I had a migraine anoying me and teasing me for about nine days. I took a muscle relaxant and sleeping pill. Fell into a good sleep. One hour latter I came up out of my bed, having to vomit. The migraine had moved out of my head and into my stomach. For the next 14 hours I threw up every 10 minutes with this horrible pain in my stomach. Fourteen hours latter it moved back into my head to stay for a couple more days.I did not have this experience as a child.
NeverToOld - 12-Feb-17 @ 12:04 AM
@Taffy - my daughter has terrible stomach problems and pain over five years, we found it was down to gluten and wheat. Keeping a diary of food triggers will really help, so you're doing the right things. It took us years of hospital tests (that came to nothing in her case) and different diets to decifer the cause - but it was definitely worth it in the end as it not only got rid of her stomach issues, it also got rid of the anxiety and depression she was suffering from at the same time. I personally believe diet is incredibly important to our welfare and that our bodies let us know if it doesn't like something. Keep going to the hospital for tests in case it is something other than diet. The docs wont let her take Ibuprofen (or Asprin) because it can damage the stomach lining if taken on an empty stomach, so stick to Paracetamol as it's safer. You might want to ask the docs if it is an allergy, such as celiac disease, which they can test for. Good luck, keep doing what you're doing, you'll get there in the end.
JoJo - 17-Nov-16 @ 11:02 AM
My 11 year old daughter has been suffering with stomach pains for two years now on and off, we have been told it stomach migraine.She is often off school with it and actually the school are very unsympathetic, i am pretty sure they think we have made it up.
Anyway last night i called the out of ours doctor who in turn sent for an ambulance and took her in to hospital, after blood tests and urine tests was told its definitely notappendix, shes not constipated so its stomach migraine, they sent us home with paracetamol and nurofen told us NOT TO TAKE IBUPROFEN, as this could make things worse. The doctor said they will arrange scans for her for the second time just to check there is not an underlying problem.There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason why she gets this but it seems to be lasting longer and longer, this time she has had the pains for eight days in total, she did go to school but was sent home.
My biggest headache out of all this is that I know the school think its a made up condition. Anyway started keeping a diary in the hope we can narrow it down and find out the triggers, not sure if it is food related, she has been in that much pain she hasn't actually eaten for three days and the pain still there although this morning it seems to have subsided a little bit and she has actually got a bit of colour in her cheeks. touch wood the pain is on its way out.
taffy - 16-Nov-16 @ 9:03 AM
kimfs - Your Question:
My 14 year old daughter , was diagnosed with a 5cm ovarian cyst 8 months ago. The cyst has now gone but ever since she keeps getting these episodes of sickness. They happen at the same time usually between 12 pm & 2am & the symptoms consist of severe sickness , stomach pain & generally feeling unwell , they can last for a few hours to a full day. She has had various blood tests done & all have come back normal. Could it be stomach migraine
I'm afraid we cannot comment upon this. If this sickness continues, you should continue to see her GP in order to get a diagnosis.
TummyTrouble - 5-Nov-15 @ 10:49 AM
My 14 year old daughter , was diagnosed with a 5cm ovarian cyst 8 months ago. The cyst has now gone but ever since she keeps getting these episodes of sickness . They happen at the same time usually between 12 pm & 2am & the symptoms consist of severe sickness , stomach pain & generally feeling unwell , they can last for a few hours to a full day . She has had various blood tests done & all have come back normal .Could it be stomach migraine
kimfs - 4-Nov-15 @ 8:59 AM
First of all I feel sorry for the people who have this .
Second of all it never happened to me , so ,how does this happen,
What is the cause of it.
Nai Nai - 28-Feb-15 @ 11:01 AM
my son is 14 yrs old ,has had stomach aches for years, we have had 2 endoscopys that were normal. tried naturopatathic, helped somewhat.we just started bio- feedback, and they
think he has abdominal migraines.he will get nauseous after he gets up or after breakfast,
sometimes he throws up, very tired, bad taste in mouth, and then sometimes will get a headache, flushed cheeks and feels warm.He usually feels better in the afternoon and
evening but sometimes stomach ache returns.he has just missed 3 weeks of school
and this is very upsetting. going to see a neurologist next week.i feel so bad for him,
he likes school and friends but he just feels crappy.does anyone have any good advice.?
skigirl - 29-Mar-13 @ 5:20 PM
Please help, I have just had my daughter to see paediatric dr. who thinks my 7 year old daughter is suffering from abdominal migraines! she is also referring her for scans on her abdomin just to make sure there is nothing else wrong but this is affecting our family life big time. my daughter has not had a full week at school for 6 weeks now and this has been going on for about 3 months. I also have been told to give her ibupfron and paracetamol when in pain until I go back in march to find out if she needs prescription medication. I would appreciate any ways of comforting your child when this is happening, I have tried a hot pad on her tummy but this doesnt seem to help that much. Not looking forward to xmas at the moment as feeling a bit stressed about everything/
lynn - 19-Dec-12 @ 9:35 PM
I also disagree with the statement in the article saying it's not food related, some food most definitely is a trigger for my 6 year old daughter. I also think there may be a link with lack of sleep and stress. My daughter began over a year ago with stomach pains which lasted for days, sometimes with vomiting. She was diagnosed with constipation and prescribed movicol satchets. When the episodes continued I knew it wasn't constipation and started keeping a food diary thinking she may have a food allergy. Following an attack I took her to see her GP and showed him the diary, he could see that she had eaten quite a bit of dishes with cheese in it and queried adominal migraine. He advised the '4 C's exclusion diet' - exclude Cheese, Chocolate, Citrus fruits and Caffeine from the diet. The attacks became less frequent and when she had an attack nine times out of ten we could pin point it to food she had eaten which had the trigger in it.
telltale - 22-Aug-12 @ 9:46 AM
I have read with interest about signs and symptoms my grandson 11yrs has been suffering for the past year with abdominal pain on and off. Hes been to the Drs quite a few times but we have just been told probably a virus!!!!! looking what others have stated I can identify with it all. I have told his mum about this site but she will go to the drs again next time it flares up but she doesnt want Dr to think she is doing the diagnosis for him has anyone any advice. I know some Drs get annoyed when being told what to investigate!!
Edie - 17-Aug-12 @ 4:49 PM
My grand daughter has just spent 4 days in hospital with terrible stomach pains, she has had lots of tests done and they cant find any reason for the pain. She is being discharged in a few hours but still does not have any diagnosis. It was thought at first she had appendicitus but they have ruled that out, pain so bad they put her on morphine, but stopped all pain relief yesterday. Sending her home advising paracets and ibrufen which was not helping before admittenace to hospital. Her poor Mum just doesnt know what to do to help her. She is 12 years old and normally healthy.
tubs - 23-Mar-12 @ 5:40 PM
I have read this article and I'm sorry but I am failing to understand what the difference between this and 'cyclical vomiting syndrome' is. I have suffered CVS for 9 years now and all the symptoms noted on here and generally the whole article seem extremely similar to CVS. I'm now starting to wonder if its the same illness but different names?
shay - 5-Sep-11 @ 12:18 AM
Thanks for your comment I have just took my daughter to the doctor she has been going dizzy then she is sick then she sleeps for hours and has abdominal pain the doctor has said it could be abdominal migraine or epilepsy ? How is your son now?
sue79 - 18-Jul-11 @ 3:00 PM
Sorry, as a mother of an acute abdominal migraine sufferer I have to disagree with your comment that "stomach migraines are never brought on by diet." in my son's case diet is the main trigger, and I think there are many, many sufferers out there who are being let to believe that what they eat does not matter, which is wrong. ANY food high in amines is a potential trigger. In my son's case he avoids pork, cheese, yeast, citrus, caffeine, shellfish (among others).anything processed or containing AMINES (specifically TYRAMINE.) The good news? He regulates his migraines through diet NOT drugs, and has been migraine free (with 2 exceptions) for a year. AND he can tolerate small amounts of amines eg. chocolate, the occasional pizza. BUT it really is a case of trial and error, as every child is different.