What is cyclic vomiting syndrome?
In cyclic vomiting syndrome, people have episodes or cycles of severe nausea and vomiting that may last for hours or days. Between episodes they have longer amounts of time without nausea or vomiting. Doctors used to think that this syndrome happened mostly in children, but now we know it can happen in adults too. Symptoms usually start between the ages of 3 and 7, and may be linked to migraine headaches.
What causes cyclic vomiting syndrome?
We do not know what causes cyclic vomiting syndrome. It has been linked to food sensitivities (chocolate, soy, or cheese), seasonal allergies, colds, migraine headaches, problems with the metabolism, and menstruation.
What are the symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome?
The symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome are severe vomiting, nausea, and gagging. Episodes usually begin late at night or early in the morning. In children, attacks usually last between 24 and 48 hours. Adults can have symptoms for almost one week. About one-half of children have attacks every two to four weeks. Adults may have episodes less often. Other symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome may be pale skin, feeling very tired and weak, headaches, fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Possible complications are dehydration, injury to the esophagus (tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) and rotting of teeth.
How is cyclic vomiting syndrome diagnosed?
Your doctor will diagnosis cyclic vomiting syndrome by evaluating your symptoms, looking at your medical history, and making sure other diseases are not causing your nausea and vomiting. In order to be diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome, a person must have had at least three attacks of severe nausea and vomiting in the past year, separated by weeks or months with no nausea or vomiting.
How is cyclic vomiting syndrome treated?
There is not a cure for cyclic vomiting syndrome, but many children outgrow this syndrome by their pre-teen or early teenage years. There are different types of treatment. People with cyclic vomiting syndrome should get a lot of rest and stay in a quiet, dark room during the vomiting phase. Once the vomiting phase has stopped, it is important to drink water. Medications that help people with migraine headaches are sometimes suggested to help stop or prevent episodes of vomiting.
When to seek immediate medical advice
Seek medical attention if you become confused or very tired, have trouble with memory, have trouble walking, get severe headaches, or become very thirsty.