For parents, there is little worse than watching your child suffer from pain that cannot be quantified in any substantial way. For nearly 2% of children, abdominal pain has been attributed to what is referred to as abdominal migraines. This condition is a variant of migraine pain that is felt in the abdomen instead of the cranium and has yet to gain significant attention.
What’s worse is the fact that as a parent, your only way to understand what is going on with your child depends on their ability to communicate what they are feeling to you. Luckily, there are some distinct physical signs that you can watch out for to help determine whether your child is suffering from an abdominal migraine. First, lets consider what an ideal abdominal migraine candidate looks like to see if your child fits the profile.
Abdominal migraines typically occur in children between the ages of five and nine, though adults have also been known to experience them. They are most common in children with a family history of migraines. Sadly, children who experience abdominal migraines in their youth will often suffer from cranium-based migraines in their adult lives. To determine whether your child’s abdominal pain might be an abdominal migraine, watch out for these five signs:
1. Location & Duration of Abdominal Pain
If your child has experienced abdominal pain that lasts up to 72 hours and is located midline or near the navel, this could be a symptom of abdominal migraines.
2. Abdominal Pain Description
Ask your child to describe the pain. Abdominal migraines are often portrayed using words like dull or sore and can be moderate or severe in level of pain. Usually, abdominal migraines are painful enough to disrupt normal, daily routines and can occur suddenly without warning.
3. Nausea & Vomiting
Queasiness and vomiting may also accompany symptoms of an abdominal migraine with spells of sickness that can last as long as the pain.
Children sometimes have difficulty understanding pain and nausea and how it affects their appetite. This can result in anorexia because the symptoms of abdominal migraines will dissuade appetite and create unhealthy eating habits.
5. Change in Color
If your child is suffering from an abdominal migraine, you may observe their face turning pale in color. Sometimes, dark circles under the eyes accompany this loss of color. In a small number of patients, abdominal migraines will cause flushing instead of pallor.
In order for your child’s pain to be safely diagnosed as an abdominal migraine, other conditions like gastrointestinal or renal disease must be ruled out. Your child must also have experienced these symptoms on at least five different occasions. As a parent, it can be hard to accept that there is no real diagnostic test that can determine if the source of your child’s pain is an abdominal migraine. Only a close review of your child’s family history, symptoms and the ruling out of other conditions can help to narrow down the search for answers.
The best thing you can do is closely monitor your child’s symptoms to determine if there are any triggers or a pattern to their abdominal pain. Talk with your child to better understand what they are experiencing and write down the words they use to describe their abdominal pain. Schedule an appointment with your physician and come prepared with your findings. The journey to relief can be a long one and every detail discovered along the way can help in finding a solution for your child’s pain.
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