Abdominal Migraine: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Abdominal migraine is a type of migraine headache that is characterized by recurring episodes of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. It affects mainly children and may often be misdiagnosed as food poisoning or gastroenteritis.

What Are the Symptoms of Abdominal Migraine?

Abdominal migraine symptoms can vary from person to person, but typically include the following:

  • Sudden and severe abdominal pain that may last for several hours to days
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale skin
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea or constipation

What Causes Abdominal Migraine?

The exact cause of abdominal migraine is unknown, but it is believed to be related to a malfunction in the central nervous system. It may also be linked to certain triggers, such as:

  • Stress
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Fasting or Skipping Meals
  • Certain Foods
  • Environmental Factors, such as Changes in Weather or Altitude
  • Hormonal Changes, such as Menstruation or Puberty

How Is Abdominal Migraine Diagnosed?

Diagnosing abdominal migraine can be challenging because its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions such as food allergies, food poisoning or inflammatory bowel disease. However, doctors usually base their diagnosis on the following:

  • Recurrent episodes of abdominal pain lasting one hour or more accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting
  • Normal results in blood and stool tests
  • Family history of migraine or other forms of headaches
  • Lack of evidence for other gastrointestinal, urological or gynecological disorders or physical illnesses
  • Response to migraine-specific medication

How Is Abdominal Migraine Treated?

Treatment for abdominal migraine is similar to that of other forms of migraine. Early diagnosis and treatment will help in controlling symptoms and avoiding complications. The following are the typical management options:

  • Medications – Abdominal migraines can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. For severe cases, prescription medications such as triptans or anti-nausea medications may be prescribed.
  • Lifestyle changes – Avoiding triggers such as fasting, dehydration, and stress, and getting sufficient sleep can help prevent abdominal migraine attacks.
  • Relaxation techniques – Patients can practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness to manage stress and prevent abdominal migraines.


Abdominal migraine is a debilitating condition characterized by recurrent episodes of abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Although the exact cause of abdominal migraine is not known, it is believed to be related to a malfunction in the central nervous system. Abdominal migraines can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, lifestyle changes, and relaxation techniques. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to managing symptoms and avoiding complications.


FAQs about Abdominal Migraine

What is Abdominal Migraine?

Abdominal Migraine is a type of Migraine that primarily affects children under the age of 14. It presents as recurrent episodes of moderate to severe abdominal pain that last anywhere from 1 to 72 hours. These episodes can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Abdominal Migraine is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning all other possible causes of abdominal pain must be ruled out before this diagnosis can be made.

What Causes Abdominal Migraine?

The exact cause of Abdominal Migraine is unknown, but it is believed to be related to changes in the brain and gut that affect the way they communicate with each other. Triggers for Abdominal Migraine include stress, anxiety, certain foods, and changes in sleep patterns. Genetics may also play a role, as there is a higher incidence of Abdominal Migraine in families with a history of Migraine.

How is Abdominal Migraine Treated?

Treatment for Abdominal Migraine is similar to that for other types of Migraine. Acute episodes can be treated with pain-relieving medications, anti-nausea medications, and rest in a quiet, dark room. Preventative measures can include identifying and avoiding trigger foods and situations, maintaining a regular sleep pattern, and stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation. In some cases, prophylactic medications used for other types of Migraine may be effective in preventing Abdominal Migraine episodes. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to individual needs.


1. Slater, S. K., & Di Lorenzo, C. (2012). Abdominal Migraine in Children: Review of the Literature and Clinical Presentation. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 54(4), 385-389.
2. D’Amico, D., Grazzi, L., & Usai, S. (2019). Abdominal Migraine: Current Perspectives on a Distinct Disorder. Panminerva Medica, 61(2), 105-116.
3. Parisi, P., Verrotti, A., Paolino, M. C., Urbano, A., Bernabucci, M., Castaldo, R., & Villa, M. P. (2010). Is Abdominal Migraine a Surgical Disease? Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 50(8), 1333-1338.