Has anyone heard of a "Stomach Migraine"? - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-07-2010, 10:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Or is this just a label doctors use when they don't know what is wrong? My 7 year old has been having bad, recurring stomach pains for several months. It is happening more and more frequently (now it is happening several times a week). We've even had her in ER because I thought it was her appendix.

The pain is pretty random, but it seems to happen shortly after she eats. But I've kept a food journal, and she isn't eating anything new when the attack happens. Nothing heavy, greasy, junk-foodish. Just her normal, regular food. In fact, today it happened after she just had a glass of water.

She seems to get very painful stomach cramps (and she says her legs hurt too). The pain seems around her navel. She cries. She gets agitated, and/or lethargic. She gets clammy. She does not get constipated or diarrhea. But she does seem to use the washroom a bit more frequently, and after she has a bowel movement the pain seems to intensify for a while. For the last 3 days, she wakes up fine, eats normal breakfast and lunch, but then gets the pains. She hasn't had dinner in 3 days (and she's already tiny). I'm getting scared. She's had a stool test and an abdominal ultrasound. I have cut way back on gluten and dairy (but I don't see how that could be the issue since she has always eaten these foods and sometimes the attacks happen when she has only had a banana). I haven't introduced anything new. Chamomile tea, ibuprophen...nothing stops the pain.

The doctors have asked if she is anxious, but she doesn't appear to be. This started during the summer, and we had a very laid-back summer....no school, no pressure.
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:59 PM
 
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Yes, abdominal migraine is a very real thing. It's closely related to cyclic vomiting syndrome, which is what my three year old DD has.

http://www.relieve-migraine-headache...-migraine.html

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Old 10-08-2010, 02:21 AM
 
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My DD and nephew went through this at a younger age - like 3/4 yrs old. Constant. Stomach. Aches. They were debilitating, and we think related to anxiety (DD and DN are hyperaware, HN and sensitive kids). Dh and I went nuts trying to sort it out, going to doctors, doing dietary stuff. We took DD to a naturopath who told us to cut out sugar, use high quality probiotics and...give a tablespoon of good olive oil 2x a day. When we started the olive oil, no pain. This may or may not be related to your DDs issues, but it helped us. Thought I would pass it on.
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Old 10-08-2010, 03:41 AM
 
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Oh Gosh, we have been through this with our daughter too. She also is tiny for her age by weight, although taller than most for her age. (She'll be 7 in November) She'll get diarrea for a few days, followed by constipation, and stomach pains a lot. Tears throughout.

My daughter is fairly high strung. I do think this is her way of expressing anxiety. Her pedi examined her but nothing showed up. We have had her allergy tested, nothing came up. So I do attribute it to her personality and her way of manifesting stress. So when this happens, I will talk to her about things that might be bothering her, and try to work things out. But, since she is also a very light eater, I really focus on her eating good things instead of the junk that she already seems so fond of. When she complains about this I tell her it's because I want her to be well, and free of tummy aches. Then she jumps on board.

We have gone through a spell of 3 or 4 months and she has been doing great. The last time she had a bad spell was when school ended before summer break. I think she was just over whelmed with all the changes that were happening around her, and knowing she was going to miss all her friends.

I hope your daughter starts to feeling better very soon. I know for us, she and I have dealt with it better when I acknowledge how bad she is feeling, I hold her close and talk to her gently about what might be on her mind. I let her cry, I rub her tummy and comfort her as much as I can. I can tell she is reassured that I take this seriously. It took a while for us to get to this point, but I honestly think this approach has really helped her to have these spells less and less often. I am ashamed to say her Dad and I took a while to really take this seriously (we were annoyed that she was not eating as well as she should and bringing her lunch home from school almost uneaten), and I feel guilty now wondering if we contributed to the anxiety she was feeling.

Hugs to you and your family xxx

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Old 10-08-2010, 05:05 AM
 
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My daughter most definately had it. She is now 16 and after 3 years on meds they are gone. She would be stressed and wake up omitting and be unable to function. Crawling to the bathroom, it was impossible for her to function.

Definately happens, very very real. Very hard to deal with. Good luck mama.
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:44 AM
 
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I was diagnosed with stomach migraines as a child. However, for me these manifested as waking up in the middle of vomiting and then going back to sleep and being fine the next day. I started having regular headache-migraines a few years later and unfortunately have always had them since.

The type of cramping you describe does sound more like anxiety to me. Unfortunately, I had that too and have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I think if my parents had been able to deal with it more proactively, though, I could have avoided a lot of suffering on both counts. It sounds like your daughter is in good hands.
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Old 10-08-2010, 11:03 AM
 
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My dd1 had a stomach thing late this summer and into the fall. I was baffled by it, but I think it was a real stomach virus, but with no vomiting or diarrhea—she just had a bad stomach ache for a day or so. It was in August, so no school. It really hurt that first day. She had tears in her eyes. I let her sit with a rice bag on her tummy and watch some TV.

After that first bad day she seemed to feel better, but every now and then would say her stomach hurt. I finally ended up taking her to the doctor. I was worried she had a UTI because she was spending a huge amount of time in the bathroom (I think it was not directly related now). Anyway, the doctor said that sometimes when they have a stomach virus the villi lining the stomach and intestines can be damaged and it can take awhile for them to grow back. I think she was hypersensitized to her stomach and felt every little pain and she was having some cramping, but it's mostly passed now. She still has an occasional stomach ache now, but once she poops they seem to go away.

DH has a dairy intolerance and stomach issues run in his side of the family so I'm a little more aware of some things. He developed his dairy issues in high school, but didn't know what was setting him off for many more years when he cut dairy out for other reasons and a lot of his stomach stuff got better. I'm sort of always on high alert in case my kids develop similar issues. Dd1 could cut out dairy fairly easily, but dd2 woudn't know what to eat. She loves her cheese!

Anyway, just wanted to throw in there that stomachaches can be the result of damage caused by a virus and may take a month or two to resolve.

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Old 10-12-2010, 10:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyra View Post
Yes, abdominal migraine is a very real thing. It's closely related to cyclic vomiting syndrome, which is what my three year old DD has.
http://www.relieve-migraine-headache...-migraine.html
Thank you for this link, and to the OP for the topic. I'd never heard of abdominal migraine, but DD has been experiencing exactly the symptoms described by OP. Not an anxious child, no particular evidence of GI issues beyond these episodes of excruciating pain. We've already had one ER visit to rule out appendicitis.

DD also gets typical migraines. She had her first at age 4, after eating a dark chocolate Easter bunny on an empty stomach. I get debilitating migraines that started in childhood. It makes sense to me that this is what she's experiencing.

Migraine is a tough illness for family to understand. There's no external evidence of illness. It can be hard to believe that someone can be fine and a short time later, completely unable to function. It may help as a parent to know that migraine is a real neurological illness that can be diagnosed and treated.

OP, it might help your DD to keep a log of when these pains happen and learn about common migraine triggers. The National Headache Foundation has on-line modules that talk about prevention & common triggers (http://www.headaches.org/education/E...ine_Prevention). The pain may not be food related at all, but could be due to other factors in her environment. Common triggers of typical migraine include dehydration, missed meals, weather changes, bright artificial light, strong scents like cleansers, perfumes, chemicals, food additives like MSG. . .the list is long!

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Old 10-12-2010, 10:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CheriK View Post
The pain may not be food related at all, but could be due to other factors in her environment. Common triggers of typical migraine include dehydration, missed meals, weather changes, bright artificial light, strong scents like cleansers, perfumes, chemicals, food additives like MSG. . .the list is long!
DD2's biggest trigger isn't food. It's tantrums. She has her migraine episodes a few hours to half a day after big emotional upsets. Which is so frustrating, because she's three-- how in the heck do you avoid emotional upset in a three year old? Three year olds ARE emotional upset.

Her other triggers are chocolate, tomatoes, and thunderstorms.

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Old 10-12-2010, 11:13 PM
 
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[QUOTE=Llyra;15940476]DD2's biggest trigger isn't food. It's tantrums. She has her migraine episodes a few hours to half a day after big emotional upsets. QUOTE]

Hmm, I wonder if that has something to do with stress hormone release (cortisol, adrenaline) and serotonin levels. Don't know enough about neurochemistry to be certain, but I would guess that the high release of stress hormones during a tantrum would lead to a change in serotonin levels, which are known to impact migraine.

Maybe helping her learn calming techniques, like deep breathing or full body relaxation (a lot of little kids love guided relaxation exercises) to help her hormone levels return to normal more readily after an upset? Or encouraging her to exercise afterward, also to help mood?

Chocolate is a common trigger. It contains tryptophan, which the body uses in manufacture of serotonin. Many fermented products are also a problem, such as yogurt, aged cheese and red wine (although the latter is likely not an issue now ). Weather changes are also a big trigger for lots of folks (I get a migraine whenever the north wind picks up).

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Old 10-13-2010, 03:01 PM
 
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I was diagnosed with abdominal migraines as a child. Is there a hx of migraines in your family? Typically they start as stomach migraines and then after puberty turn into typical headaches.

Unfortunately my Dd at age 7 also began getting them, with such frequency and swiftness of onset it was alarming. Shortly afterwards they turned into the typical migraines and she could go from fine to helplessly vomiting within 30 minutes. She began to be very nervous about participating in any activities away from home (like a class field trip, a playdate at a friend's house, etc) because she worried a headache would strike. It was sad and horrible. Her ped suggested we put her on a 3 - 6 month trial of medicine designed to prevent migraines. Many people I know were very disapproving of the choice to medicate her, but the sight of my sweet dd, vomiting and moaning "help me" several time a week was enough to convince me. (She had an MRI to rule out any kind of tumor, etc and based on the symptoms and family hx the diagnosis was pretty certain.)

A substantial portion of the kids who try this medicine are headache free for 5 years afterwards, and some never get the headaches again. I researched it and was convinced by the success stories I heard. We tried it and it was amazing. She went from getting headaches about every 3.75 days (and some would last up to 2 days) to never getting them. We tried the meds for 4 months. The only side effects were sleepiness at bedtime, when we gave her the pill, and a slight weight gain of about 4 - 5 pounds in as many months. Both are very common. I am horribly blanking on the name of the medication but if you want to PM me I'll dig it up for you. it's hard to see your kiddo in pain - good luck!

Mama to 2 mopheaded rascals
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