Abdominal Migraine – Location, Causes and Treatment

A significant number of patient coming with gastric problems and abdominal pain also report of occasional headache, most commonly a migraine and is also known as Abdominal Migraine. This is a very common cause of recurrent abdominal pain in children and those kids who often get Abdominal Migraine will typically grow up to have migraine attacks.

Location of pain

The headache is experienced in one side of the head and in the forehead, Along with pain in the abdomen in the midline or around the umbilicus.

Duration of pain

An episode lasts an hour to two but sometimes can last for up to 3 days. However, children who complain of abdominal migraines often get more than 2 episodes per month.

Character of Pain

Headache is pulsating in character while abdominal pain is diffused and aching.


Typical migraine-like symptoms along with abdominal pain are experienced, some of which are:

  • Headache on one side of the head
  • Visual auras
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness and Blurred vision
  • Abdominal pain in the midline or around the Umbilicus
  • Anorexia
  • Pallor
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low energy levels


The exact cause is still unknown however there are some proposed theories devised by considering the symptoms of patients who presented with abdominal migraine:

  • Excess histamine or serotonin is the main cause. Since serotonin is responsible for enteric nervous functions such as gastric motility, secretion, and sensations along with nervous system symptoms. Thus, access in its production can cause changes in the CNS leading to headaches and associated abdominal pain.
  • Swallowing a lot of air while having food can set off the gastric symptoms, this results in bloating and excessive burping. Children often complain of abdominal pain along with a headache.
  • Several foods that trigger migraines are also responsible for abdominal pain.


  • MSG containing foods
  • Aged cheese
  • Alcohol and alcohol-containing beverages
  • Processed meats with nitrites
  • Prolonged fasting
  • An altered sleep schedule

Risk factors

  • People with a family history of migraines
  • Female gender
  • Kids with chronic stomach pain
  • People who have anxiety or chronic depression

Abdominal migraine in children

Abdominal migraine is mostly seen in children. A child will present with episodes of nausea, vomiting, and pallor twice or thrice a month, with a symptom-free period in between the episodes. Since the children cannot completely discuss their symptoms so it is often misdiagnosed as a simple bellyache.


Abdominal migraines are mostly misdiagnosed because kids have a problem differentiating between a stomach ache or other problems in their gut also they fail to describe its association with a headache. Due to its prevalence in the family, the doctor will take a detailed family history of migraines and will rule out other causes by doing an abdominal examination.


Since it is associated with abdominal pain thus, it can be easily managed by taking a few measures.

Medical treatment:

  • NSAIDs to relieve the pain.
  • Anti-nausea medications
  • Triptans for migraine
  • Benzodiazepines for anxiety
  • Cyproheptadine for excess histamine

Home remedies:

  • Avoid triggers such as stress, prolonged fasting, and food triggers.
  • Regulate your sleeping pattern.
  • Take a diet rich in fiber.
  • Stress management for people who have anxiety or depression.
  • Sleep in a dark, cold room during an episode.
  • Avoid any source of noise or bright lights.
  • Exercise daily
  • Simple practices like yoga or meditation can also help.

When to consult a doctor?

If your kid often complains of abdominal pain and has trouble sleeping due to it, you should consult a doctor. As a grown-up, if your migraine is associated with para-umbilical or midline abdominal pain, you are most likely suffering from abdominal migraine and should book an appointment with your medical practitioner.


How do I know if my child is having an abdominal migraine?

If your child has vomiting and abdominal pain and is sensitive to light and sounds and he has such episodes at least twice a month your child is most likely having an abdominal migraine.

Can a child of school-going age, can have migraines?

Abdominal migraine is common in children from the age group of 5 to 9 years.

Is abdominal pain always associated with abdominal migraine?

No, 4% of kids who have abdominal pain will have abdominal migraines. However, proper consultation with the pediatrician will give you a final diagnosis.

Is diarrhea a symptom of abdominal migraine?

Yes, abdominal migraines are often associated with diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and pallor.