The episodes of pain are of moderate-to-severe intensity and are felt in the midline of the abdomen, usually around the belly button, or poorly localised (all over the abdomen). The attacks of pain are usually accompanied by little desire to eat and nausea (feeling of sickness). Approximately half of those affected will vomit with at least some attacks. Other symptoms can include photophobia (sensitivity to light), phonophobia (sensitivity to sound) and dizziness. Children may seem pale, although some children may appear flushed during an attack.
The symptoms of abdominal migraine normally appear in childhood before puberty, reaching a peak at the age of 12 years and thereafter falling rapidly. In people affected the symptoms of abdominal migraine will resolve with age, but in one third of patients the symptoms will persist until the teenage years. Most patients will develop migraine headaches (see entry Migraine). Very occasionally the onset of symptoms may be during the teenage years or in adults
The onset of attacks of abdominal pain may be at any time of day but occur most frequently first thing in the morning on waking. The attacks are self-limiting (eventually will stop) and resolve without treatment and patients are completely well and symptom free between attacks.