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Abdominal migraine treatment | How to treat an abdominal migraine

2010 May 22

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According to the international classification of headache disorders, the abdominal migraine is a recurrent disorder of unknown origin that occurs mainly on children. Such a migraine is characterised by severe abdominal pain, recurrent vomiting, stomach trouble and diarrhea. These migraine episodes can last an hour or more, up to 72 hours, followed by periods of “calm”. In the periods between the attacks the child has no symptoms. The frequency of this type of migraine reaches its peak when the child is 5 to 9 years of age. Diagnosis is established by ruling out other causes of stomach pains. Approximately 80% of those who suffer from abdominal migraines have family and other members who had the same problem.

The child must have at least five consecutive attacks that can not be attributed to other causes, to conclude to a diagnosis of abdominal migraine. In order to be an abdominal migraine, the pain must meet the following criteria:

- The attacks lasts from 1-72 hours.
- The pain must have all of the following: median location, around the navel or poor location, type deaf, moderate or severe intensity.
- during the attack must have at least two of the following: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, pallor.

Home treatment

So much is unknown about the causes of migraine. Of course, there are many theories, but the exact cause for the abdominal migraine still remains a challenge for specialists. But all agree that this is a neurological disease. There are some risk factors that trigger the crisis and worsen the abdominal migraine once the disease is installed. Nowadays, an abdominal migraine can be treated at home.

Experts believe that the most reliable abdominal migraine treatment is rest. Sleep relieves pain, improves brain function and intellectual capacity and decreases symptoms of abdominal migraine intensity.

Specialised Treatment

The abdominal migraine drug treatment is possible through psychotherapy (psychotherapy, integrative, cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy, Ericksonian psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, other forms of psychotherapy) acupuncture and acupressure, aromatherapy, alternative treatments.
The treatment consists of avoidance of triggers (if they were discovered), analgesics and treat the root cause.

Patients who suffer from migraine accuse a wide range of symptoms. Typically, a child with migraine describes the pain as being located in the median area of the body.  Most children with abdominal migraine develop headache throughout life and the two can co-exist during adolescence.

The specialized treatment is very complex and involves several steps:

- Educate patients and parents on the trigger;
- Make an immediate treatment plan ;
- Adopt preventive measures (especially if the patient has frequent migraines).

Immediate treatment

The abdominal migraine is a result of dysfunction of vascular and nervous systems. Researchers say the attacks are related to chemical changes in the body and that this process is involved with blood vessels and certain nerve cells. There is also known that the abdominal migraine is a “business” family.

When the crisis occurs, the parents should try to lead the child in a cool, dark and quiet room and must advise the child to try to sleep. The sleep is the most powerful and effective abdominal migraine treatment. During the attack, most children sleep in the foetal position on the affected side.
Another good treatment is to apply cold compresses or ice (wrapped in a piece of natural fabric such as cotton) on the painful area may reduce pain at least for a while.

Medication treatment

Effective analgesic therapy is recommended and the administration of relatively high-dose of NSAIDs but not exceed the maximum allowed for the child’s age group. Their efficiency is highest when administered during the aura phase or even earlier. Most recommended are Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Acetaminophen. Aspirin is not recommended for patients under 18 years of age, because it can cause serious complications.

Digestion is slowed in the course of a migraine headache attack and thus affects the absorption rate (the downside). Sometimes if the treatment is administered with carbonated beverages, this may improve absorption, but not significantly.

Other therapeutic recommendations addressed mainly to teenagers are:

- Learning relaxation techniques,
- Hypnosis,
- Biofeedback.

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