Anyone who has ever had a migraine will say they do not just happen in the head. The headache is usually the worst and most painful part of a migraine, but there’s more. Most migraineurs (people who suffer from migraines) will talk about photosensitivity (sensitivity to light), phonosensitivity (sensitivity to sound), scent sensitivity, gastric pain, cramping, and vomiting.
Sometimes the abdominal symptoms show up without the other typical migraine symptoms. When they do, a patient is said to be experiencing an abdominal migraine. An abdominal migraine is pain, usually varying from mild to medium, in the abdomen. The pain is either along the midline or unspecified and is frequently accompanied by abdominal tenderness, cramp-like spasms, bloating, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Since abdomen pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions other causes need to be ruled out before a diagnosis can be made. In a classic abdominal migraine, no gastric cause for the pain can be identified. Migraineurs need to let their doctors know about their migraines when they experience unspecified abdominal pain so that the doctor knows abdominal migraine may be a possibility.
Abdominal migraines are most common in children. Children who experience abdominal migraines frequently grow up to be migraineurs. While abdominal migraine is not unheard of in adults, it is rare. Like most other types of migraine, it is also more common in females than in males.
While the exact cause of abdominal migraines is unknown, it is highly likely to be related to serotonin deficiency. Serotonin deficiency has been linked in several studies to migraines, and 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gastric system. Serotonin deficiency causes cascading waves of nerve reaction in the brain when triggering a migraine and a similar process may be in effect in the abdomen.