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    What Are Abdominal Migraines?

    Abdominal migraines aren't headaches. As their name suggests, they make your belly ache instead. But they often happen as a reaction to the same triggers as migraine headaches. They can hurt a lot and cause nausea, cramps, and often vomiting.

    Kids whose family members get migraines are more likely to get abdominal migraines. About 2 in 100 children do; they're rare in adults. More girls get them than boys.

    And kids who have abdominal migraines typically get migraine headaches when they get older.

    Causes and Triggers

    We don't know their exact cause. One theory is that changes in the levels of two compounds your body makes, histamine and serotonin, are responsible. Experts think that being upset or worried can affect them.

    Foods such as chocolate, Chinese food with monosodium glutamate (MSG), and processed meats with nitrites might trigger abdominal migraines.

    Swallowing a lot of air may also trigger them or set off similar tummy symptoms. It can cause bloating and trouble eating.


    It will hurt in the center of your child's body or around their belly button (not their sides), what doctors call midline abdominal pain. Your little one could also:

    • Feel queasy or throw up
    • Be pale or flushed
    • Yawn, be drowsy, or have little energy
    • Lose their appetite or be unable to eat
    • Have dark shadows under their eyes

    Abdominal migraines are often sudden and quite severe. They can hit without any warning signs. The pain may go away after an hour, or it may last as long as 3 days.


    It can be hard to diagnose them because kids have trouble telling the difference between an abdominal migraine and ordinary stomachaches, stomach flu, or other problems with their belly and guts.

    Because abdominal migraines tend to run in families, the doctor will ask about relatives who have migraine headaches.

    Then he'll try to rule out other causes for stomach pain. And he'll see how closely your child's symptoms match a specific list that migraine experts have come up with.

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