There is evidence to suggest that, in children, episodic abdominal pain occurring in the absence of headache may be a migrainous phenomenon. There are four separate strands of evidence for this: (i) the common co-existence of abdominal pain and migraine headaches; (ii) the similarity between children with episodic abdominal pain and children with migraine headaches, with respect to social and demographic factors, precipitating and relieving factors, and accompanying gastrointestinal, neurological and vasomotor features; (iii) the effectiveness of non-analgesic migraine therapy (such as pizotifen, propanolol, cyproheptadine and the triptans) in abdominal migraine; and (iv) the finding of similar neurophysiological features in both migraine headache and abdominal migraine.
Abdominal migraine is rare, but not unknown, in adults. Many families are content with a diagnosis and reassurance that the episodes, though distressing, are not the result of serious pathology. Some patients respond to simple dietary and other prophylactic measures.
There is scant evidence on which to base recommendations for the drug management of abdominal migraine. What little literature exists suggests that the antimigraine drugs pizotifen, propanolol and cyproheptadine are effective prophylactics. Nasal sumatriptan (although not licensed for pediatric use) may be effective in relieving abdominal migraine attacks.
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