Overview and Facts:
Migraine refers to repetitive attacks of moderate to severe pain, which is throbbing in nature. Abdominal migraine is thought to be a condition related to migraine, which is found in children and is characterized by pain in the stomach. It is usually precipitated by the general triggers of classic migraine. Abdominal migraines are rarely found in adults. However, it has also been observed that children, who have abdominal migraine go on to develop migraine headache in the later phase of their lives.
It is genetic, which means if any of the elder family members has abdominal migraine, the kid is more likely to get it. Out of every 100 children, 2 are known to have this problem. Girls are more likely to have abdominal migraine than boys. In most cases, abdominal migraine leads to migraine headache when they get older.
Symptoms of Abdominal Migraine:
This pain targets the center of a child’s body or around belly button, and doctor call it a midline abdominal pain. Abdominal migraine is sudden and severe as it can hit anytime without any warning sign. The pain may go away in an hour or can last for hours. The symptoms may include:
- Yawning and little drowsiness
- Low energy
- Dark shadows under the eyes
- Loss of appetite or unable to eat
Risk Factors of Abdominal Migraine:
Factors that trigger abdominal migraine include excitement and stress. Emotional changes may lead to the release of some chemicals that are responsible for migraine symptoms. Some common risk factors of this condition are:
- Nitrates and other chemicals found in chocolates, meat and other foods
- Swallowing excess of air
- Motion sickness
Do I have Abdominal Migraine?
The symptoms that you may experience in case of abdominal migraine, such as low energy, restlessness, vomiting and loss of appetite, may be the symptoms of other health issues as well. It may be any gastrointestinal problems that has similar symptoms like diarrhea, paleness and irritable bowls.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is advisable to contact a doctor to know the exact reason of your discomfort.
Cause and Prevention of Abdominal Migraine:
1. Cause of Abdominal Migraine:
Exact reasons of this condition are not known, but one of the theories suggests that when changes take place in the level of two compounds – serotonin and histamine – produced in the body, are responsible for abdominal migraine. Experts say that a worry can too trigger this problem.
Foods, such as Chinese delicacies containing monosodium glutamate (MSG), chocolates and processed meat with nitrites might cause abdominal migraine. Swallowing a lot of air in stomach may also lead to this problem, which causes trouble in eating and bloating.
2. Prevention of Abdominal Migraine:
Usually, kids are unable to figure out what kind of pain they have. They and their parents take it as a normal stomach ache, which can worsen if not diagnosed properly. Parents and doctors can help the kid to diagnose the problem easily. Keep a diary and note every activity of the child like what he is eating, when he is eating, what food they had taken earlier, if they took any medication and if anything is happening in their lives that are making them worried or upset.
It is good to avoid foods that triggers abdominal migraine, but it does not work for everyone. Nevertheless, some drugs are available in the market that may reduce the risk of abdominal migraine:
- Cyproheptadine (Periactin), an antihistamine, which helps in stomach trouble.
- Propranolol (Inderal), which is a heart medication called as beta blocker.
- Valproic acid (Depakene, Depakote), used for bipolar disorders and seizures.
Kids, who have abdominal migraine should eat healthy food, and take a nutritious diet containing plenty of fibers. Other habits like regular exercise and enough sleep can also help kids to overcome the problem of abdominal migraine.
Diagnosis and Tests of Abdominal Migraine:
It may be hard to diagnose abdominal migraine as the kids are generally confused whether they have abdominal migraine or stomach ache. Firstly, the doctor might ask if there is any one in the family, who has abdominal migraine or migraine headache. Further, he would try to diagnose how closely the symptoms match to the abdominal migraine.
Abdominal migraine is diagnosed who meet the below given criteria:
- If there is at least 5 episodes of abdominal pain with each lasting from 1 to 72 hours.
- Light pain around belly button, which may be moderate to severe.
- If at least any two exists from symptoms like pale skin, nausea, appetite loss and vomiting.
- If there is no evidence of kidney disease.
Doctor may also do physical tests like ultrasound and endoscopy to detect conditions like:
- Peptic ulcer
- Bowel blockage
- Kidney disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Crohn’s disease
Treatment and Care of Abdominal Pain:
It is easy to deal with the problem if you know it! Sometimes, doctors treat abdominal migraine as a normal pain, but they usually do not prescribe drugs unless the symptoms are worse.
There are medications like rizatriptan (Maxalt) and sumatriptan (Imitrex), known as “triptans” that are used to relieve the symptoms of this condition. While these are not approved for children, older kids may use sumatriptan as a nasal spray.
OTC Medications and Self-Management Methods for Abdominal Migraine:
1. OTC Medications for Abdominal Migraine:
There are some over-the-counter (OTC) medications available in the market that can be taken to reduce the symptoms of abdominal migraine:
- Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory and painkiller
- Tylenol is a painkiller which help reduce abdominal pain.
The above-mentioned OTC medicines are to be taken in case of emergencies. However, there use is still not recommended due to their side effects. It is always advisable go for any drug only after consulting a medical practitioner.
2. Self-Management Methods of Abdominal Migraine:
There are some simple ways that can be followed to avoid abdominal migraine symptoms. You can do plenty of things to ease the discomfort and pain, including:
- Lying down in a darkened room, which should be ideally sound proof
- Practicing exercises and yoga
- Avoiding heavy and spicy foods
- Avoiding stress
- Maintaining a diary to check the symptom triggers and track eating patterns
Natural Ways to Treat Abdominal Migraine:
There are some natural ways through which abdominal migraine can be cured for a time. It includes:
- Place a hot water bottle or bag on the patient’s stomach to ease the pain.
- Consume peppermint tea
- Meditate or practice yoga like Gaumukhasana (cow pose) and Virabhadrasana (warrior pose)
- Take ginger as it is effective in reducing pain
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids
- Consume mild food items like rice, bananas and dry toast
- Apply lavender or clove essential oil around the abdomen in a circular motion to reduce the sensation of pain.
Health Tip by Expert:
Following a healthy life style and avoiding unhealthy food habits can significantly prevent abdominal migraine.