The symptoms of abdominal migraine regularly confuse doctors. It’s surprisingly common in children, so it’s equally surprising that so many people have never even heard of it!
The most recognizable symptom of abdominal migraine is the recurring abdominal pain. In between attacks, everything will be fine. But then the stomach pain returns, often lasting a whole 24 hours (anywhere from 1-72 hours).
As with many types of migraine, there is often no headache. The most common symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
- No appetite (anorexia)
- pallor (going pale)
Aside from these, there may be headache, sensitivity to light, irritability, diarrhea, and dark shadows under the eyes. The symptoms of abdominal migraine are episodic – that is, they come in "attacks" with healthy periods in between, just like other types of migraine.
Sometimes these symptoms appear in adults, but normally they occur in children between the ages of 5 and 9. It can be very tricky to diagnose, and it’s important to rule out other possible issues (such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and peptic ulcer). Sometimes children are diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) – recent studies are suggesting that CVS may actually be abdominal migraine.
It’s also important to deal with abdominal migraine because it can lead to other kinds of migraine in adulthood. It’s a big help to get a proper diagnosis and proper treatment early on.
Side note: Why are these abdominal symptoms included in the category of migraine? There are two main reasons. First, there are symptoms similar to many types of migraine – it comes in episodes, nausea is often present, sensitivity to light, etc. Second, researchers discovered that people with abdominal migraine symptoms often had other family members with more familiar types of migraine.
Remember, migraine is not just another name for a headache!