Stomach pain, nausea and vomiting can be signs of stomach migraines in
children. Children who suffer from stomach migraines most typically
have migraine somewhere in their family tree.
It has been proven to be an inherited condition - yes here comes the guilt as a parent.
Sadly, most children who experience this type of migraine will develop a more classic type of migraine with and or without aura in adulthood.
This type of migraine is most often misdiagnosed and dismissed by parents and teachers.
Society as a whole mistakes this type of migraine for something with similar symptoms like cold or a flu bug.
The statistics say that 10% of children get migraines, and an even
higher percentage of teenagers get them. Deep sleep is highly
recommended as an effective remedy. Your Doctor will most likely run
tests to rule out anything more serious and life threatening.
I always say that Migraines (for me) are just life altering, not life threatening.
The diagnostic criteria for stomach, also called abdominal migraines is:
At least five attacks having the following symptoms:
• Moderate to severe mid-line pain (around the navel);
• Pain lasting one to seventy two hours (which is 3 days), if left untreated or what you treated it with was not effective;
• Dull quality of pain (as opposed to sharp,stabbing or throbbing).
It can be accompanied by one or more of the following:
• Loss of appetite
• Pallor – which is paleness, a white complexion
• Dark circles under the eyes
• Dizziness, or dizzy spells
• Yawning, listlessness, lethargy, tiredness.
If your child seems to get recurring stomach migraines, that come back again and again, it will be worth a trip to your doctor and perhaps a specialist or neurologist to get the correct diagnosis as early as possible. The sooner you can get a pain management strategy organized, the sooner you can teach your child how to deal with these debilitating attacks.
When children get migraines, the pain is not just on one side. So this may accompany the stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. It might be really difficult to tell if this is just an ordinary stomach ache, flu, infection or other gastrointestinal problem.
I don't know how many times I have heard parents say "I thought they were lying to get out of class" or to avoid a test.
I know I keep saying this, but get them to a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor can run the tests to give you the answers you need to take the right action.
The answer is – that depends on the trigger and what is causing the
stomach pain. If it is over exertion from physical exercise, then you
can reduce the physical exercise. If it is from say chocolate, than you
can refrain from eating chocolate, and well – avoid it all together.
Food triggers can play a large part in being migraine triggers - you
will have to work with your child and your doctor to determine them.
So, the question of prevention is a big one. I see no way to completely eliminate migraines from your life once they begin. Prophylactics and preventative medications may do the trick in efficiently eliminating the attacks from your child's life. But be prepared to deal with a life long condition.
Having said that, there is more help available to us now than ever before in history.
Migraine prevention in children or adults might turn out to become trial and error. All you can do is educate yourself and your child about stomach migraines.
Being informed will help you make the right choices to help prevent and manage the migraine episodes.
Work with your doctor for solutions, strategies, and successful medications for this child's condition.
Watch for any signs
emotional side effects
or depression. You may need to be quite proactive to find the best
course of action for the treatment and prevention of migraines for your
child. You may want to consider a little extra migraine support in the form of professional pain counseling.
Choosing healthy lifestyle habits and learning to manage stress may play a role in reducing the risk of stomach migraines in children. Some basic ideas like keeping a migraine diary or journal to record your child’s symptoms, moods, activities, etc. or if they are very young getting them to draw a picture of the migraine to help you provide your doctor with more information.
Feel free to print out my symptom tracker to use.
And read these:
The abdominal migraine treatment
for stomach migraines is the same for classic migraines. Some medications commonly used for children:
• Anti-nausea medications: Phenergan (promethazine) or Reglan (metoclopramide). These also have anti-migraine effects as well.
• NSAIDS: Ibuprofen or Naproxen
• Triptans: the nasal form of Imitrex, for example. This is a delicate area as Triptans are only recently officially approved to treat young children. They are being used anyway by many doctors who have experienced some good results with them. They are also known to intensify nausea and vomiting.
Newsflash - 2013 - two migraine abortive medications have now been approved for the use in childhood migraines.
Maxalt® (Rizatriptan), a dissolving wafer, is now officially approved by the FDA for use in children - aged 6 years old and up and it is useful for children with nausea and vomiting by bypassing the digestive process; and
Axert® (Almotriptan malate) was also approved for children aged 12 years old and up.
This is great news for parents whose children suffer with migraine headaches.
Studies are now saying that the best way to treat migraines is to combine traditional medications with alternative therapies. This combination works well for kids, give them a try.
These are just a few ideas for information purposes - your physician must be consulted to determine what medications and treatments are appropriate for your child.
Please share what works for you and your kids in the Facebook comment section below. Sharing information helps other readers.
Until next time, be well and be pain free,
1. Robert, T. (2009) Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. Harper Collins Publishers: New York.
2. Webmd.com (2015) Abdominal Migraines in Children and Adults. [Online], Available at: http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/abdominal-migraines-children-adults. Accessed Jun 2016.
Types of Migraines
Stomach Migraines in Children: Prevention and Treatment