When we think of migraine, we often imagine recurrent attacks of the headache, but do you know migraine affects the stomach also? Surprised? Yes, we are talking about Abdominal migraine’ that affects the stomach and is one of the common causes of chronic and recurrent abdominal pain, especially in children. If your child often complains about belly aches or nausea, cramps, and vomiting and you have ruled out any other major cause for it, then abdominal migraine could be the reason.

Let us know more about abdominal migraine in the following blog.

What is Abdominal Migraine and Whom Does it Affect?

Abdominal migraine is characterized by moderate to severe belly pain in the abdomen region. The dull and achy discomfort around the stomach may last from a few hours to as long as 72 hours. Usually, no symptoms appear between two episodes of moderate to severe pain attacks. The frequency of migraine attacks depends on several factors and thus may vary from person to person. Mostly kids between 3 and 10 years of age get affected and the condition is more common in girls. Adults may also but rarely suffer from this condition.

Is Abdominal Migraine Similar to Migraine Headache?

Abdominal migraine has triggers such as stress or anxiety similar to migraine headaches. Recurrent pain attacks that characterize a typical migraine are features of abdominal migraine, but a person experiences pain in the stomach near the belly button area and usually not in the head. Various research studies indicate that kids who experience abdominal migraine in childhood tend to develop typical migraine later in adolescence or adulthood. There is no specific diagnostic or imaging test for abdominal migraine, knowing your family history of migraine helps to diagnose it. Children born to parents with migraine are more likely to have the abdominal migraine condition.

Symptoms of Abdominal Migraine to Observe

Patients usually do not show any major symptoms in the period between two episodes which can range from weeks to months. However, episodes of moderate to severe belly pain appear as the main symptom of this condition.
Other symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Weakness and paleness
  • Headache 

5 Ways to Deal With Abdominal Migraine 

Let us learn five ways to deal with and live a healthy life with abdominal migraine.

1. Rule out any other major health condition in your body

Abdominal pain may be misunderstood and misdiagnosed as other health diseases mainly bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, appendicitis, gall bladder stones, stomach ulcers, kidney issues, reproductive issues, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) etc. Vomiting and nausea associated with abdominal migraine can be misinterpreted as cyclical vomiting syndrome. Your health care provider will suggest you get the investigations done to uproot doubt of any other disease. Since the exact cause of abdominal migraine remains unclear, it is important to ensure that the person is free from any other major health issue before starting to treat the abdominal migraine.

2. Try to avoid common triggers for abdominal migraine

The main culprit to elicit any type of migraine is stress. Stress and anxiety are enemies of good health and are significantly responsible for triggering abdominal migraine too. So, if your child is frequently experiencing stomach aches and no other major health concern has been investigated then you need to find out if there is any major stress factor troubling your child. This includes any stressful situation at school or home, any kind of phobia or fear, or any other health concern. We all know young kids may not be able to express what they are going through so it becomes your responsibility to dig out and remove the stress factor bothering the young child. If you are an adult experiencing abdominal migraine, try to overcome stress by getting involved in stress relief activities to rejuvenate your body and brain. Also, recognize if any other factor seems to trigger the pain as tracking the triggers will help in widening the gaps between two migraine episodes and narrowing down the intensity of discomfort.

3. Don’t compromise with good sleep

Who doesn’t know about the benefits of good and sufficient sleep? Nevertheless, this becomes even more important if we are considering small kids suffering from a migraine condition. Make sure your kid gets a sufficient amount of good-quality sleep. One may use conventional ways to fulfill this need such as giving a gentle oil massage to a child or making him sleep in a room away from any substantial disturbances. Good and restful sleep is known to improve metabolism and promote the release of stress-relief hormones over stress-generating hormones. As an adult, you must follow a regular bedtime routine to avoid any migraine attacks as poor sleep provokes migraine conditions.

4. Make sure you eat healthy meals on time

Do you or your kid often miss a meal or follow an irregular food routine? This could increase the likelihood of abdominal migraine. Nutritious food helps in keeping your gut healthy and timely intake of meals helps in its complete digestion. Encourage your child to eat fresh fruits and vegetables over junk and processed food. Make sure they drink plenty of water to eliminate by-products of metabolism. Proper consumption, assimilation, and digestion of food may improve overall health and thus reduce the severity of abdominal migraine symptoms. Food triggers for abdominal migraine have not been found significantly yet if you observe any such indication, avoid that food completely. You may take advice from an expert to know the replacement of that food item or treatment plan to deal with it.

5. Ask a doctor about preventive medicines if needed

Usually, abdominal migraine episodes come and go without any serious implications however if you or your child is experiencing acute pain attacks or extreme nausea and vomiting episodes, consult a doctor for the right treatment approach. Your doctor may prescribe you some analgesics or anti-nausea medicines. To prevent frequent abdominal migraine attacks, doctors may prescribe some dietary modifications, exercises, lifestyle changes, or cognitive behavioral therapy, especially for kids.


Learning proper self-care is important to manage any type of migraine. Try to inculcate healthy habits in your kids so that they learn to deal with migraine as they get older. As a child grows into a teenager, abdominal migraine symptoms may fade away but as mentioned before abdominal migraine may develop into typical migraine in adulthood. Following healthy practices, however, will assist in reducing the frequency or severity of the migraine pains.

Experiencing pain in any form is unpleasant but seeing your child experiencing it could leave you in a state of despair. If your child is facing recurrent stomach ache episodes and you are clueless about how to deal with it, then connect to an online pediatrician now or speak to other health experts through Ask A Doctor 24x7 and seek expert advice on your health concern.

Recently Answered Questions on Abdominal Health and Migraine

Disclaimer: Information provided on this page is not intended to substitute for proper medical advice provided by your healthcare professional. This is only for informational purposes.

About the Author

Dr. Nidhi Hukku

Dr. Nidhi is a doctorate in Biotechnology with more than 7 years of experience in academic, scientific, and healthcare writing. She has been the recipient of CSIR/UGC JRF and has worked in both the academic and health sector to create content for various online platforms. She is an eminent writer with the potential to leave a dynamic impact on readers with her write-ups. Presently, she is working on the post of senior medical editor.

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