Abdominal Migraines in Children and Adults (cont.)

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What causes abdominal migraine?

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 symptoms of abdominal migraine?

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.

How is abdominal migraine diagnosed?

Because of the frequent absence of headache, the condition can be difficult to diagnose, especially during the first episode. There is no specific test that can establish the diagnosis of abdominal migraine, so the diagnosis is based on exclusion of other conditions. Laboratory tests and imaging studies are usually directed to rule out other conditions that could be responsible for the symptoms. Electroencephalography (EEG) is sometimes done to rule out a seizure disorder as the cause of the symptoms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/5/2013

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Abdominal Migraines - Signs and Symptoms Question: What were the signs and symptoms of abdominal migraines for you or your child?
Abdominal Migraines - Diagnosis Question: Describe the process that led to a diagnosis of abdominal migraines.
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Abdominal Migraine - Treatments Question: What treatments have been effective for your child's abdominal migraines?

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