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Diagnosis of Migraine & Headache Types

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome / Abdominal Migraine

  • By B. Morebello

    I’ve been dealing with extreme nausea with severe vomiting and severe stomach pain for several months now. As a kid, I would just have extreme nausea and severe stomach pain when I was stressed, but the doctors always told me to just go home and take it easy, relax, and eventually I would feel better.

    But for the past 2 years, and even more so since September 2012, I’ve been having the extreme nausea/severe vomiting/severe stomach pain every couple of weeks and at first I thought it was my gallbladder because the last few times I’ve just been vomiting bright green bile for 3 to 5 days at a time. I’ve been the ER twice for severe dehydration because of it and finally the 2nd time last night, once of the ER docs suggested that I might have CVS and to follow up with a specialist. I’ve been doing a little bit of research today and it seems like that’s what I have, but everything I’ve been reading says it’s more common children. I do have chronic migraines with auras almost daily for the past 4 years, I also have fibromyalgia and PKD (kidney disease).

    Is CVS/Abdominal Migraines a common thing? Any advice, tips, comments would be appreciated, I’m not sure what I’m dealing with yet and I’m getting tired of being so sick all the time.

    Thank you!

  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi supertruestory,

    First let me say how sorry I am to have missed your post. Now, let me see what I can do to help you out.

    You are correct CVS or cyclic vomiting syndrome is an uncommon disorder often found in children but can also be found in adults who have a history of migraine. It can be hard to determine whether one has CVS or abdominal migraine because some of the symptoms are similar.

    There seems to be less pain in CVS and an attack may last from an hour to five days. On the other hand the pain of abdominal migraine may be more moderate and /or severe and can be quite debilitating. We have some information on CVS in this link;

    May I ask what kind of doctor treats your migraines? I wonder if it is time to consider seeing a migraine specialist, THE expert who is board certified in headache medicine.

    Let me know if I can do any more to help,

  • By Jeanette Cucura Keymaster

    From one of our readers: elizabethcroke

    Hi. I’ve had traditional migraines since I was ten. I’ve pretty much gotten used to those and deal with them accordingly. Now I’ve developed abdominal migraines . I’m finding these to be debilitating. Anyone else expiring these?

  • By Laurence Hauben

    I have been suffering from migraines for several years, and noticed that whenever I get a migraine (severe headache, sensitivity to light, etc…), I also get nauseous and experience diarrhea. I am pretty intuitive, and for some reason I kept getting the intuitive message to look up vagus nerve. After researching, I now realize how powerful that nerve is, and that it must be involved. It runs from the brain though the entire digestive system, the heart, and basically controls the entire parasympathetic system. I am going to try to learn more about how to take care of this nerve and keep it from being triggered. I think it will help reduce the frequency and severity of my migraines.

  • By Lisa

    I am needing some information. My daughter, 10 years old, has recently been having severe stomach pain around her naval, headaches, vomiting (once a day usually, some days none), and is pale with dark circles. She does not feel like eating either. This has been going on for a week. As a baby, she had reflux and has always complained of stomach pain off and on throughout the years. I have taken her to the dr. and was told she is constipated. He does not take things very seriously and is very quick to get in and out. Does anyone have any suggestions to what type of physician I need to take her to? Gastro or Neuro? I would appreciate any advice or information. Thank you.

    • By B. Morebello

      I get very pale and completely lose my appetite during an Abdominal Migraine.. I would suggest taking her to a neurologist, someone who specializes in headaches/migraines, they’ll know right away if she’s suffering from it too. I went to a gastroenterologist first and all they did was some lab work and told me to take prilosec, which never helped. It wasn’t until I was hospitalized for the 4th time for severe dehydration from vomiting so much over several days that one of the ER docs said I probably had Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, then I went to a neurologist who told me I had Abdominal Migraines.. once you figure out your daughter’s triggers, they happen less often.

      I find that a heating pad on my stomach or lower back helps with the stomach pain, and ginger ale and crackers are best, I can usually keep those down better than other foods. After that, I stick to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) until I feel ok enough to start eating normal foods. Ginger ale, ginger candies, and mint tea helps with the nausea too. OH, and if she feels well enough to eat, just let her eat until she’s just about full, getting too full can trigger another Abdominal Migraine, it upsets the stomach muscles and start cramping up. I hope this helps, Abdominal Migraines are very painful, I find that I need a lot of rest when I get one. And don’t let those doctors send you home without an answer, sometimes you have to fight them, don’t let them tell you it’s nothing but constipation, Abdominal Migraine is not “nothing”.

    • By Kerrie Smyres Moderator


      I lean toward taking her to a headache specialist rather than a general neurologist or gastroenterologist. All the symptoms you describe can be migraine-related. A headache/migraine specialist will know if migraine is the core issue (whereas a gastro may not) and understands that migraine has many gastrointestinal symptoms. Many children don’t even have head pain with their migraine attacks, which a headache specialist will understand and know how to treat. Here’s a list of specialists that treat children:


  • By Laurence Hauben

    I would first get a different pediatrician. Obviously your current one is not paying close attention. Since she has had gastrointestinal symptoms all her life, I would go to a gastro before consulting a neurologist. Also try to find out if something has upset your daughter. It could be that she is anxious or depressed because of being bullied or some other negative event, and the vomiting and headaches are her way of letting you know.

    Best wishes,


  • By md74


    I have a unique condition whereby I am not able to retain food at all. I throw up within 1 to 2 minutes of eating. There is no pain, no bile, no discomfort at all. Just that I have a reflex action of throwing up chewed food within a minute of eating. All my tests are normal and all the doctors (gastroenterologists, neurosurgeon) ate clueless about what’s causing this. I have had a few episodes in the past, but this particulate time, this has not stopped for OVER A YEAH now. I desperately need some advice and help as to what should I do to recover from this.

  • By Laurence Hauben

    I thought I should post again and let you all know how things have changed for me since realizing that there might be a connection between my bouts of migraine/vomiting/diarrhea and the vagus nerve. When I posted on March 30th, I had just had another of my almost weekly episodes of being totally incapacitated for 2 days. Here is the BIG NEWS” I HAVE BEEN MIGRAINE-FREE SINCE MARCH 30TH, SO OVER 5 MONTHS NOW. NOTHING ELSE ABOUT MY LIFE HAS CHANGED. I am as busy with demanding work as before, I eat the same foods, get about the same amount of exercise, and still struggle with insomnia, but the migraines are gone, with no prescription drugs at all.
    Here is what I did: Once I got the intuition that I should look up the function of the vagus nerve, and found out that it runs from the skull to the abdomen, involves all our major organs, and is responsible for releasing adrenalin in our body during a fight or flight (stress) situation.
    I started consciously “checking in” with my vagus, like you would say hello to a loved one, asking “how are you? Do you need any help today? I am here for you if you do.”
    I started making an effort to pay attention when my nerves were “wearing thin”, and taking a short break when they did, either just lying down for a few minutes, or taking a brief walk or even just a bathroom break, a few deep breaths, and a tall glass of water. Basically, I listened to my body. When I have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, I take an Ambien, and slow down my work pace a bit the next day. I make sure to stay hydrated. I take a walk with my dog. If I wake up feeling a slight headache, I immediately take 2 aspirins with a little milk, and another 2 aspirins an hour later. Once a month, I get a full body massage. The migraines have totally stopped, along with the vomiting, etc…
    For me the bottom line is talk to your body like it is your friend in a crisis and ask what is upsetting it. Listen respectfully and reassure your friend that you are there to support it. You might be amazed at the results.