What is Abdominal Migraine? Stomach Migraine Revealed

Stomach Migraine Abdominal Migraine

Stomach migraine or abdominal migraine can occur with or without head pain.  I have always had severe nausea and vomiting with higher-level migraine attacks.  The pain becomes too much and my body just heaves in pain.  This weekend was no exception.  Lately, I’ve had severe nausea with even my lighter daily migraine.  I knew it wasn’t a virus and I knew it was related to my migraine, but why?  I read a lot about my disease and since I started blogging have taken a better inventory of how I feel, when, why, and how I can treat it.  It has empowered me but also not gotten me much better. 

Stomach Migraine

At my last neurologist appointment, we discussed my increased stomach pains during lower head pain migraines.  The results are that I’m having abdominal migraines.  I had guessed that this was what was happening to me but have only read about abdominal migraines in children.  I suggest that if you have a child with stomach issues look more into abdominal migraines.  Even though I have had migraine since I was a child, I never really thought I had abdominal migraines.  So why now?

The conclusion my nurse and I came up with was Botox.  While my Botox is hit or miss and different each time, I have been getting it the most consistently over the last year.  While it is “freezing” my head, it is pushing my pain deeper.  It’s hard to explain to a non-sufferer.  While the exterior of my face and head have been treated, the inflammation triggers more deeply in my head and seems to radiate from the center of my head out.  It’s a burning poker pain being jabbed from the center to the exterior versus the outside in. 

Abdominal Migraine

How are stomachaches and migraine related to my abdominal migraines?  The conclusion we made was that Botox is working but isn’t a cure, as we know.  So while it is working to help the “headache” it isn’t addressing the disease as a whole and leaving my stomach the opportunity to punish me more.  My head pain is so consistent and consuming that maybe I’ve always had abdominal migraines and never given it much credit because my head was all I cared about.  Or maybe numbing some of the head pain made my disease morph into something else.  Let me preface this by saying that my Botox is NOT causing my abdominal migraines.  Realizing that migraine is a neurological disease and not just a headache is something that everyone who suffers should fully grasp.  It is a wide range of symptoms and attacks on the body. 

Migraine without Head Pain

Migraine medication.  This leads me to my next problem.  I take my migraine meds very sparingly.  I suffer daily and really only treat it when the level is rising quickly or has been at a heightened level for days.  This may sound sacrificial but when you live in never-ending pain, treatment becomes tricky.  I try to avoid rebounds, medication overuse, and more.  I try to save my meds for emergencies.  Now I’m advised to treat my abdominal migraines the same.  I get nervous taking meds for my stomach when my head pain isn’t heightened because I need to save those meds for when it is.  I can handle crazy stomach pains when I know what crazy head pains feel like.  Only so many triptans can be taken so often and I can’t risk taking one with an abdominal migraine with a larger ”head”  migraine looming.

What Do I Do with My Stomachache Migraine?

My nurse has no answer for me because her answer is to treat my abdominal migraine the same as a “regular” migraine.  So here’s my rock and a hard place.  Pains if I do, pains if I don’t.  Stomach pain for my abdominal migraines, throwing up for my chronic migraines.  Lucky me!  So we think we figured out my new issue but once again my knowledge has not made me better.  One step forward in diagnosing abdominal migraine.  Two steps back on how and when I medicate my disease.  Sounds about right…..one step forward, two steps back. Remember that my story is not yours, but maybe we can learn from each other.

Abdominal migraine is a type of migraine that primarily affects children, although it can occur in adults as well. It is characterized by recurrent episodes of moderate to severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Unlike typical migraines, abdominal migraines don’t always involve head pain. The pain is usually located in the abdomen and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as pallor (paleness), loss of appetite, and sometimes a headache.

What Does Abdominal Migraine Feel Like

Abdominal Pain

The pain is usually located around the navel and may be described as dull or sore. It can be severe and disabling, lasting from one to 72 hours.

Nausea and Vomiting

Many individuals with abdominal migraine experience nausea, and vomiting may occur during an episode.

Lack of Headache (in some cases)

Unlike typical migraine attacks, there may not be a significant headache during an abdominal migraine episode. However, some people may experience a headache before, after, or during the episode.

Family History

There is often a family history of migraine, suggesting a genetic component.

Precipitating Factors

Episodes may be triggered by certain factors, such as stress, excitement, certain foods, or hormonal changes.

Abdominal migraine are considered a type of migraine variant and are part of the broader spectrum of migraine disorders. The exact cause of abdominal migraines is not well understood, but they are thought to involve abnormal brain activity that affects the gastrointestinal system.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may be experiencing abdominal migraine, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. Treatment strategies may include lifestyle modifications, identifying and avoiding triggers, and in some cases, medications used for traditional migraine may be prescribed.

It’s worth noting that while stomach migraine is more common in children, some individuals may continue to experience them into adulthood. If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with abdominal migraines, seek guidance from a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate course of action for your specific situation.

Have you experienced abdominal migraine?

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Sarah Rathsack

Sarah tells stories of My Migraine Life. Living life through Migraine consists of advocacy, treatment, prevention, and searching for health and happiness in a positive honest way. Her kids, husband, dog, family and friends motivate her to make a difference in the Migraine World.

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3 Comments

  1. Amy B. on March 3, 2016 at 9:05 am

    My migraines started as abdominal migraines as a child. Little did anyone know that’s what my “period ” pains were and i suffered by staying home from school and lying down with a heating pad. They lasted anywhere from a couple of hours to several days. As a young adult I went to the ER when the pain lasted over 24 hours or when I thought it might be my gallbladder or appendix. Pain consists of right upper quad stabbing pain through to my back, severe nausea and can’t eat. Anxiety and unable to stand the pain brought on an ER visit where ultrasounds and blood work came back negative but the treatment of Demerol and Phrnergan helped. Usually left the hospital with made up diagnosis i.e. hyperspymotic colon—gas.
    But then I saw my fantabulous neurologist who took me back to my teenage years and within a few minutes diagnosed me with migraines as a kid, the abdominal kind. REALLY I wasn’t making this up or dreaming!?!?!
    Now it makes since and I still get the abdominal kind a few times a year but I know what have are and how to treat them.



  2. mymigrainelife on March 3, 2016 at 9:16 am

    The feeling of “not making it up” must have felt so gratifying. Thanks for sharing your story.



  3. Lisa on March 4, 2016 at 12:13 am

    I read that you also suffer from nausea with your migraine attacks. Try using compazine suppositories. They work fast and help relax you too.



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