Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer


Diagnosis of Migraine & Headache Types

Adult Abdominal Migraine?

  • By Kelly, FlyWithHope

    Is anyone familiar with Adult Abdominal Migraine? I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the last time I saw my gastroenterologist, he suggested perhaps I was also having adult abdominal Migraine. I see my headache specialist soon and will be asking him about it.

    Today, I am having a weather-triggered Migraine without aura with associated head pain and sensitivities. But, I have also been having severe abdominal pain which is oddly different from the severe abdominal pain I get with IBS . I have been dealing with severe IBS the last several weeks. I also get severe menstrual cramps, but these don’t feel exactly like those either (and I should not be having cramps now and no-there is no possibility I am pregnant). It is strange to have cramping pain that severe in the same area I get both IBS and menstrual cramps, yet they feel somehow different. I’m wondering if I DO in fact have AAM, but I can’t find much info about it.

    I noticed Dr. Lipton was referenced in the article here on Perhaps I will pursue that avenue. I would love to hear if anyone has any input or can direct me in an are of research.

    Thanks! Kelly

  • By The Migraine Girl Moderator


    Thanks for your post. Though abdominal migraine is most frequently seen in children and teens, it’s definitely possible that your symptoms match those seen in those populations.

    Here’s another article from the website about abdominal migraine you might find helpful:

    It’s also possible that you’re suffering from some gastrointestinal side effects that are part and parcel of a migraine attack for many, many patients. Here’s more information on gastroparesis:

    I haven’t been diagnosed with AAM before but I’m guessing some of our members will pipe up to chat with you about this soon! In the meantime, be as gentle with yourself as you can and let us know how you’re doing.


    Janet G.
    “The Migraine Girl”

  • By Khadija

    My doctor has said likely I have AAM’s. I have had my insides checked for this and that, scans, etc and the all clear. I would say my symptom’s started about four years ago right before my aura migraines decided to come back after many years. I told my doc I get severe nausea to the point it somewhat hurts, mid line abdomen pain that comes and goes, absolutely no appetite which is bad because I can go a week without food when this occurs. Likely I am hungry but the thought of food during this…
    I usually get this either in between migraines or before a big aura migraine. My doc suggested anti-nausea with my regular pain meds, the combo works sometimes if I catch the start if it all on time.

  • By Kathryn

    I have recently been diagnosed with AAM at age 52. It had been going on for over 6 years, but they seem to come in clusters and then go away for a bit. I have seen 3 separate GI doctors who told me everything looked okay and it must be microscopic colitis, yet every colonoscopy and every other test under the sun came back normal (even very specialized tests for Acute Intermittent Porphyria). So given some of the things it could have been, I’m relieved it’s migraines, but they can still be very debilitating. Curious what other AAM sufferers have for symptoms and if you’ve identified any triggers. I haven’t been able to determine triggers. I will get this “weird” feeling in my abdomen which turns quickly into unbelievable pain and then I know shortly I’ll have explosive diarrhea. Would love to hear from others.

  • By SMW

    OMG Kathrynjtm, you have just described something that has plagued me since I was 19 years old and has gone undiagnosed for 26yrs!!!! I have been tested for EVERYTHING. Ultrasounds, barium x ray, cilia function scan, food allergies, on and on and on. The closest anyone has come to explaining my situation is that I have polyps in my gall bladder and maybe if those get in the way it causes a gall bladder attack. I suffer from head migraines, no aura, just intense pain, also since my late teens. My mother suffers from migraine, with aura + pain. My head migraines have increased and changed slightly so I started doing some research. Until now my migraines have been very manageable and I know that they are hormone related. It’s looking like the hormone shift of perimenopause/menopause, plus living in an area with strong barometric changes means I’m in for a few pain filed years… But I digress. While looking for the latest news in migraines I stumbled on the term “abdominal Migraine” which I’d never heard of before. Certainly no doctor has ever suggested it… Like you, I haven’t been able to determine any triggers and like you, my pain starts off as a “weird” (but very distinct) feeling in my abdomen which quickly evolves into explosive diarrhea and then severe abdominal pain. The pain is generally in the centre of my abdomen and nothing such as positional movement, pressure or anything will alleviate it. Shortly after getting off the toilet, I usually wind up on the floor, absolutely grey and in a cold sweat until it passes. Luckily for me, it usually passes after about 20 minutes. Any more time and I would likely pass out as I would compare the pain to slightly more painful than a full labour contraction except that it is constant and “bearing down” doesn’t provide any relief. I am at the mercy of this pain until it passes. I have instinctively always felt that the diarrhea was a result of the pain as opposed to a symptom of the attack itself. I am often sore and tender to the touch the next day. The only reason I know this is that the first time it happened I went straight to the doctors office and when he did an abdominal examination I nearly jumped off the table. (But other than applying pressure to the abdomen, I wouldn’t notice any tenderness in day to day activities). Because of how I reacted with that first attack and subsequent exam, the doctor diagnosed me at the time with a gall bladder attack. Of course, the tests that he sent me for came back negative. And so for years, about 3 or 4 times a year, I would have these attacks and go for tests and all tests would come back fine. I eventually gave up on getting a diagnosis. And luckily for me, these attacks have almost disappeared. It has been years since I had one (knock on wood).

    My attacks always happen at night after I have been asleep for 3-4 hours. Usually between 2:30-3:30 in the morning. Never at any other time. Ever.

    Fast forward to last August. My then 11 year old woke up in the middle of the night in serious abdominal pain. I took her to the hospital suspecting appendicitis. 23hrs and one emergency surgery later, she wound up having 160cm of small intestine resected. No one could figure out what was wrong with her and once 6 doctors and the head of the Children’s Hospital Radiology department weighed in, it was decided she had a bowel obstruction and in to surgery she went. Instead of an obstruction, they found her intestine tied in a knot and necrotic. The surgeons said they’d never seen anything like it and were dumbfounded as intestines don’t usually have the capability to spontaneously tie themselves up. She has made a full recovery (minus part of her bowel) and 7mos post-op, has had nothing of the kind happen again.

    My question is, does anyone know what the physiology of an intestinal migraine is? Is it a form of cramping? Is it a restriction of blood flow? Is it possible that she had a migraine and that caused her intestines to turn and twist so much that the circulation was cut off? The fact that no one can tell me what happened to my daughter worries me. It would be nicer to have a reason why this happened!

    Any thoughts or contributions are GREATLY appreciated. I can’t believe I may have found an answer to my very strange and peculiar problem!!! And possibly and explanation for my daughter???….

  • By Lisa Robin Benson Moderator

    Hi 1d0qy50,

    That definitely sounds scary about what happened with your daughter and I’m glad she is ok!

    I don’t know much about the actual physiology of abdominal migraine–I know if has to do with the central nervous system. But you may want to check out some medical articles on the subject. Medscape is a great site though you may need to create a user ID and login (free). I found this article which could maybe be helpful:

    Be well,

  • By Kathryn

    Very scary about your daughter.
    You have better described my symptoms than I did….wow!
    Good to hear your attacks have subsided.
    I’ve been 27 days since last one…hoping to keep on that track.

  • By Shinetrue

    I think I may be having an abdominal migraine – for the first time today. I would take my regular migraines with aura over this! At least with those I know more of what to expect. This is NOT fun. Been going on for over 12 hours comes in waves. Pretty sure it’s not food poisoning (no diarrhea) feels like what maybe an ulcer would feel like? This morning my body felt like a migraine was coming on but no aura. I’ve never had stomach pain like this, have almost thrown up a few times, this only comes in second to the worst migraine I ever had after weaning my second child (got dehydrated, hormones, my hands clenched up and couldn’t control them – went to ER which I never do)
    Is there anything that will help this?
    Sorry this is so rambling and I could probably share more but I am just hoping to sleep tonight – really hope a regular migraine doesn’t follow this too.

  • By Khadija

    Well I know how you feel, I am no doctor but very likely it is the abdominal migraine. Last week I thought it was the end of two week nausea and it was till yesterday when I felt sick again. I saw my neurologist on Monday and she told my the nausea days seem to be a headache type in itself , just in the stomach. So I guess now everyday I have a migraine! Sometimes the nausea is just beyond intense though I never have to throw up, it is like nausea on another level I guess. The worst part of it is taking promethazine which works but it knocks me out! something that is not great to happen when at work. Usually at the end of a nausea cycle I do not get a migraine half of the time. Last week after the wave of nausea I had aura symptoms and started to get the full on migraine pain. I took meds first sign of the aura (blurry vision) so I think that helped keep the pain at minimal though the top of my head or skull felt like it was sore for a couple of days after.

    Hope you can find some relief!

  • By Ann Wallace

    I’m new to this discussion. First, I’m so grateful for this website and for all the different forums there are. I’m getting my best information from
    I am 67 years old and have had migraine since I was 13. My father had them when he was young, so when I started he said not to worry, that I’d outgrow them. Well I haven’t.
    Over the years my migraines have morphed. I no longer get the warning of an aura. They no longer hit and run in the space of a few hours – they go on for days or I have individual migraines day after day. I have been on a series of preventative meds for the past 2 years, but the migraines are increasing in incidence.
    I ALWAYS have a break in the migraine cycle during the summer months. Not so this year. I have lost so many days this summer – 8 days in a row of individual migraines! My monthly calendar from June until present is covered with red pen (to mark a migraine day).
    Yesterday (Sunday) I had a real scare. I had been out socially, returned home around 5 pm – feeling fine.Within an hour of arriving home I felt nauseous. I headed to the bathroom just in time to vomit. Not your normal vomit – what I call migraine vomit (sorry for being gross). 10 minutes later I was back in the bathroom again. Then the pain started in my left abdomen. It was – as some have said – worse than the head pain. ( It was just like the pain I experienced when I ovulated, as a young woman. But I’m past menopause). I thought it might be my appendix, so I checked on WebMD. They gave me a list of things, none of which was abdominal migraine. I figured I’d check in with your website (since I’m still alive today) and it seems like this might have been abdominal migraine. Just an aside that I was down with a migraine two days before (friday), was feeling crappy on saturday so took an Imitrex before bed to insure that I’d be OK for Sunday.
    I’m still feeling undone today. No nausea, no pain but the usual aftermath of a migraine for me, where I’m totally drained of energy and afraid to move for fear of another migraine.
    Any suggestions or comments would help.

  • By Ann Wallace

    I’m checking in to give an update of my problem. On Monday evening I had another, worse, bout of pain that lasted much longer that the pain on Sunday. This morning I tried my PCP’s office – wanted to talk to the nurse or the PA, but everything was voicemail. I did a walk-in and was seen, scheduled for blood work and a CT, and told that they suspected diverticulitis. Got the call for results a while ago. It’s a KIDNEY STONE! I weaned of Topamax in December of last year because of hair loss. NOW I have a kidney stone??

  • By Jojiieme

    Pls excuse my barging in, when the conversation has been quiet for so long. I’d have replied sooner, if I’d known about the site earlier 🙂
    Admittedly, I’m on the other side of the world, and my patterns are a bit different to most of yours, it seems. My abdominal migraines often used to coincide with the hormonal migraines just before my periods started, or mid-cycle. And they’d sometimes be very embarrassing. Luckily, that was relatively rare until my early 50s, when I should have gone through menopause (still haven’t), when the pain had me curled on the floor crying.
    A couple of very timely interventions have made my life much more comfortable:
    *my family doctor referred me to a physiotherapist for pain management. Not normally migraine treatment! In this case, we used heat treatment, strength training (lower back and legs) and aquatherapy so I could learn better deep muscle control.
    *she also referred me to a new neuro, and I got some new preventatives added. We’re constantly adjusting the mix.
    *she referred me to a new gynae, and I was fitted with a Mirena. Half the pelvic pain gone in 3 months (I know it’s not for everyone).
    *finally, and most exciting for me, I rediscovered the Feldenkrais workshops. This has been most help for my abdominal migraines and my frozen shoulder. The pelvic floor workshop and the sessions for backs, hips and foot care (that one surprised me) helped to find small adjustments in the ways I sit or walk when migraines begin to emerge. This means I can usually let those symptoms develop but stop the really bad debilitating stuff from crippling me. I’ve only had 3 abdominal migraines in the last 6 months, and they only lasted 3-5 hours.
    I’m sorry if I’m rambling; summer is my bad season and it’s a heatwave here. (I’m on day 3 of a weird coming/going migraine influenced by storms) here’s hoping everyone’s New Year is much better than 2015!

    • By Kelly, FlyWithHope

      Thanks for your input, JOJ! It is appreciated and I hope that your 2016 is going as well as possible!

    • By Kelly, FlyWithHope

      Hello RitaCarol!

      Mireya is brand name for a form of birth control called an IUD or “Intrauterine Device.” It is placed inside the uterus by a GYN/healthcare professional. For some people, using birth control can help with a common migraine trigger: hormones. I use a low-estrogen oral birth control continuously to reduce the number of menstrual cycles I have a year as menstrual Migraines are some of the most severe Migraines I have experienced. There is a lot of more detailed info out there about Mirena, but I hope this help in answering your question! May you be as well as possible!