Abdominal Migraine in Children

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder Anand, MD
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What is the treatment for abdominal migraine?

The treatment of abdominal migraine has two components - to reduce symptoms of an acute attack and to prevent or lessen the severity of future episodes. Research to date has not provided sufficient data to firmly establish the role of any particular medication in either treating symptoms or preventing future episodes of abdominal migraine. Still, many patients respond to anti-migraine medications and other medications.

Medications to treat abdominal migraine

Types of medications that may be used to manage abdominal migraine include:

  • Analgesic drugs, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen
  • Sumatriptan (Imitrex, Alsuma), a member of the triptan class of drugs used to treat migraine in adults, has been used to treat some older children with abdominal migraine
  • Tricyclic antidepressants and drugs that block the effects of serotonin have been used in some patients to decrease frequency of attacks.
  • Valproic acid (Depakote), an antiseizure medication, has been used to treat abdominal migraine.
  • Ergotamine medications, also used for adults with migraine, are used to treat some childhood variants of migraine.
  • Low dose aspirin and low dose beta-blocker medications have been used over the long term in some patients in an attempt to diminish the frequency of future attacks.
  • The antihistamine cyproheptadine has been shown to be effective in some children with migraine variants.

Other aspects of treatment may include the administration of intravenous fluids if vomiting is severe, and the use of sedatives or antiemetic drugs.

Treatment may also include advice to recognize and avoid triggers, if these are known. For example, if food triggers have been identified, these should be avoided, although not all those who experience abdominal migraine have identifiable food triggers. Stress management and relaxation programs may be of benefit to some.

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