Abdominal migraine is the pain in the abdomen even when there is no headache and it occurs often in children but rarely in adults. It is common in children aging five to nine years old. Abdominal migraine consists primarily of abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting and the patient may become flushed or pale. Typically, the pain lasts anywhere from one to six hours.
The most frustrating part of abdominal migraine is the diagnosis because young children have difficulty in trying to explain how they feel. Since migraine is believed to be genetically based, it is quite certain that there is a member in the family who also has a migraine. Besides medical history and family history, diagnosis usually involves a physical examination, blood and urine tests and tests such as sonography. Non-drug treatment like bio feed back is helpful in both children and adults and beta-blockers can be a preventive medication.
In most of the cases, a child with abdominal migraine would still have migraine as an adult, though the symptoms may change. It has been studied that migraines can do permanent damage and so, the sooner the treatment, the better. The children who experience abdominal migraine eventually develop migraine with or without aura. An abdominal migraine can be diagnosed through attacks of abdominal pain lasting 1 to 72 hours and characteristically, pain in midline location and periumbilical part, and of dull or just sore quality with moderate or severe intensity.
A child suffering from abdominal pain may have either one or any two of anorexia, nausea, vomiting and pallor (dark shadows under the eyes). The child suffering from abdominal migraine experiences pain, which is severe enough to interfere with normal routine activities. Most children with abdominal migraine are certain to develop migraine head ache in their later life. The attacks are self-limiting and resolve almost spontaneously and the patients have no symptoms between attacks.
The abdominal pain usually occurs in the morning, though it may also occur at any time of the day. The other symptoms are photophobia, phono phobia and dizziness. Since there is no diagnostic test to confirm abdominal migraine, it is achieved only through patient’s medical history and family history, evaluating the symptoms and ruling out other causes of symptoms.
If the abdominal migraine is of serious nature, the patient can be allowed to take rest and the condition usually improves with sleep and he or she should be allowed to lie down in a quiet and dark room, undisturbed.
If the abdominal migraine is not frequent, medications used for other types of migraine are given and when they are frequent, preventive therapies used for migraines can be given. But fundamentally, the choice of medication largely depends upon the age of the patient.