Abdominal migraine

Have you ever heard of abdominal migraine? I hadn’t either until a couple of weeks ago.

One Saturday afternoon my younger son complained of stomach ache. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he might be hungry. He started eating his tea and the pain didn’t go away, it got worse, even though he was still hungry. So he lay on the settee.

I could see how much pain he was in. He wasn’t aware of it, but he was bending and stretching his legs and clenching his toes like a baby with colic. The pain got worse and at times it made him cry. He wouldn’t let me leave him, so I just sat with him, talked to him, read to him and held his hand.

He wasn’t sick and he didn’t have diaorrhea (no, I never know how to spell that word, but you know what I mean). He didn’t even feel sick, but he was hurting badly. It takes a lot of pain to make a 9 year old boy cry.

At the back of my mind was appendicitis. Now I know nothing about appendicitis and the symptoms, other than that it’s really bad stomach pain. And if you have that you need medical attention straight away! I didn’t want to be rushing him to the out of hours doctor or A&E for nothing, but nor did I want to take any risks.

So I did an NHS symptom checker online. It came back inconclusive and said I would get a call back within two hours. I got the call back TWELVE HOURS LATER. At 5.40 on a Sunday morning. Didn’t they think that by then either he would have got a lot worse or better and maybe I might have found my own solution which didn’t involve being woken by the phone ringing before 6am?!

Sorry, I digress slightly…

The pain eased off a bit and then it got even worse. So I rang my friend who is a doctor and lives round the corner. We don’t take the p*ss, we’re not forever phoning her. But I know she doesn’t mind taking a look at the kids if we’re worried about something. I think this is only the fourth time I’ve called on her services in the seven years I’ve known her.

She came straight round and checked my son thoroughly. She could see the way his legs were moving and how he reacted to her touch. She said it was almost certainly abdominal migraine which, like its more well-known head version, comes and goes and some people are prone to it. She said it could be relieved with paracetemol and ibuprofen, would probably last a few hours and would be likely to return.

Just as soon as it came, it went. It had been with him precisely four hours and he was able to go to sleep as usual. The next morning he was 100% and played rugby.

Last Thursday he had stomach pain in the morning. He put it down to nerves at playing Henry VIII in the school assembly, but the pain didn’t ease after the assembly. It got worse in the evening just before bed.

On Friday, exactly the same pattern. Slight pain from 8am, coming and going all day and getting worse at bedtime.

My friend advised keeping a record of the duration of the pain – and of any possible triggers.

At 8am, there is only two things that could have triggered it – milk or Cheerios. Cheerios seemed pretty unlikely, so milk was the main suspect (especially as my daughter and I are both intolerant to dairy). He always drinks two cups of milk before bed, so this would fit in with it getting worse at bedtime.

He had no milk on Saturday or Sunday – drinking water or apple juice instead (and scarily already looking thinner because of it, even though he only drank skimmed).

But on Sunday evening the pain was back.  And again this morning before he’d even had breakfast.

Already since that first episode he is managing it better himself. He knows what the pain is and knows it will eventually go away. He also knows to take Calpol or ibuprofen to ease it. But stomach pain every day isn’t ideal for a little boy (or anyone). I’m making an appointment for the doctor’s this week to see if we can find out more. I’ll keep you posted on progress.


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Ah bless him, it must indeed have been very pinful to make a 9 year old cry. And NHS direct… grrrrr…. Bee x

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  2. Sounds awful. I have actually heard of them, my friend’s son suffers from them (he’s 4) and his Dad did too, I’m not sure that they’ve found what triggers it. Poor thing, I hope that you get some answers.

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  3. Gosh poor boy, I’ve never heard of a stomach migraine before but that sounds really awful. I hope it’s something that he’s able to manage, he definitely sounds a very positive and determined boy xx

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  4. I sympathise. Abdominal migraines were always a pre-cursor of migraine headaches when I was a teenager. I stopped eating bananas, coffee and chocolate and worked hard not to stress about stuff at school. By the time I reached uni they had pretty much gone. I occasionally get them now, but I recognise the signs early and take ibuprofen.

    I wish you well x.

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  5. Thanks very much, everyone. Blimmin’ NHS Direct, what’t s the point?
    We’ve been to the doctor today and he’s had blood test and urine sample. We have to keep food and symptom diary to see if they can pinpoint what’s causing it and how to manage it.
    Good to know you learned to manage it, Lesley. It’s probably similar to my IBS – I know what to avoid or I know to suffer the consequences for a day or two! x

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  6. have they tested for intolerances, coeliac and or cow’s milk protein? I cannot see who said it is abdominal migraine but I would think that would be one of several things and some tests are needed. A Paediatrician referral would be on my list when going to GP if it is so bad that regular calpol is needed. Hope things are better soon

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  7. Sorry I reread and I can see it is your friend who thinks that it is migraine. I am sure she would agree that as it things are ongoing, it would be good to be seen ‘in the NHS system’ and thoroughly checked out, to give you all peace of mind. good luck 🙂

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  8. Thanks very much for commenting, really appreciate you taking the time. Since posting this I’ve seen the GP and they are now looking into those things. Will hopefully post an update tomorrow.

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  9. I’ve never heard of them but Master E has had some very similar symptoms where he’s obviously got a lot of pain but nothing seems wrong. I had put it down to growing pains but will be watching closely unless he’s suffering the same. Xx

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  10. Sorry to hear Master E has been suffering too. Hope it doesn’t come back. x

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  11. My 16 year old daughter has been suffering a lot from stomach pain over the last few years. About 2 years ago she had her appendix out and I thought that would be the end of the pain….but no, it actually got worse for a while. She had lots of tests but nothing was found. She takes antacids when she needs to. Yesterday she came home from work experience in pain and is still in bed this morning! I have been searching stomach pain and found this blog. I have read about your son with interest….hope he is feeling much better or at least controlling the pain. The symptoms sound similar to my daughter and I am wondering if you have any suggestions.

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  12. Sorry to hear about your daughter and hope she finds a solution! After this episode – which lasted a few days – my son has had nothing, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed he stays that way! Unfortunately I have no suggestions other than painkillers 🙁

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