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Abdominal Epilepsy

Abdominal epilepsy is an uncommon syndrome of epilepsy. It is more likely to occur in children. With abdominal epilepsy, there are group of intestinal or stomach troubles, most commonly abdominal pain, caused by seizure activity. This activity can be seen on EEG.


Common symptoms of abdominal epilepsy include:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Uncontrollable abdominal pain
  • Sleepiness

Adverse Effects

These symptoms exhibit adverse effect on the nervous system such as:

  • Syncope
  • Headache
  • Confusion

Though these abdominal symptoms looks much similar to those of the painful bowel syndrome, it may be distinguished from it by feeling tired/weary after the attack, altered consciousness and by an atypical EEG.

Abdominal epilepsy is hard to diagnose. Seizures in epilepsy follow a pattern of signs before an attack, known as auras. People with epilepsy just before a seizure might have a smelling sensation of an object that’s not there or see flashing lights.

The Auras associated with abdominal symptoms are mostly similar to ones in epilepsy. Nausea, excessive hunger, gassiness or uncontrollable pain is a sign of a seizure activity.

Diagnosis of abdominal epilepsy can only be made when the root cause of the seizure activity are the abdominal symptoms, says an expert neurologist.

Diagnosis Of Stomach Epilepsy

As it’s very difficult to know the factors for the diagnosis of stomach epilepsy, experts recommend the following criteria to dig deeper:

  • Episodic symptoms of abdominal pain that can’t be clarified after series of blood tests, endoscopy or x-ray scans.
  • After taking anticonvulsants, the patient shows no or less symptoms such as abdominal pain or nausea.
  • Symptoms that are linked to problems in CNS (central nervous system) such as altered consciousness or fatigue.
  • The wave patterns in EEG are not normal.

Neurological And Medical Tests

Few neurological and medical tests that are essential to detect the root cause of abdominal epilepsy after its diagnosis include:

  • Endoscopy of the stomach tract from either through the mouth or through the rectum or both.
  • Essential blood tests
  • Ultrasound of the stomach (whole abdomen)
  • MRI scan of the brain
  • CT scan of the brain and the whole abdomen
  • EEG test

Pediatric patients are found to have abdominal epilepsy. The most prominent problem to understand the abdominal epilepsy is defining a definite relationship between the seizure activity in the brain and the abdominal symptoms. Many experts say that this is main aspect they had to understand between temporal lobe seizure activity and pathophysiology. From various studies and researches it’s clear that temporal lobe seizures are caused in the amygdala but the pathophysiology of abdominal epilepsy still requires more research as it remains unclear.


Abdominal epilepsy is usually treated with anticonvulsant drugs such as phenytoin but as there no controlled studies yet, using other anticonvulsant drugs or therapy might be effective too. In the known cases, abdominal epilepsy when treated with medicines used for epilepsy showed improvements in their abdominal symptoms.

Like any other epileptic syndrome, abdominal epilepsy can also reduce quality of life. If you or your child is facing repeated pain in the stomach, make sure you take him to the doctor and perform necessary medical investigations.

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