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Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS)

What is cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS)?

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a rare disorder that is characterized by episodes of severe vomiting. These episodes seem to have no apparent cause and can last for hours or even days. Even though CVS was once thought to only affect children, now it is known that the condition occurs in all age groups.

What causes cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS)?

The exact cause of CVS is still largely unknown, but the following triggers have been identified:
  • Colds, allergies, or sinus problems
  • Emotional stress, anxiety or panic attacks, or excitement
  • Certain foods, such as chocolate or cheese
  • Overeating or eating right before bed
  • Hot weather
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Menstruation
In addition to these, there may be a link between migraines and cyclic vomiting syndrome because many children with the disease have a family history of migraines, and chronic use of marijuana has also been associated with the condition.

What are the symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS)?

The characteristic symptom of CVS, according to Mayo Clinic, includes severe vomiting that occurs several times per hour and lasts less than one week or three or more separate episodes of vomiting with no apparent cause in the past year. Additional common symptoms of CVS include the following:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light
The time between these vomiting episodes are generally symptom-free, but continued vomiting can cause severe dehydration that could be life-threatening.

How is cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) diagnosed?

CVS is often difficult to diagnose because vomiting is a symptom of many other disorders, so these other disorders must be ruled out to confirm a diagnosis. This can be done using the following tests:
  • Imaging studies, such as endoscopy, CT scan, or magnetic resonance enterography to check for blockages in the digestive system
  • Motility tests to monitor the movement of food through the digestive system
  • Laboratory tests to check for thyroid problems
  • MRI to check for a brain tumor or potential central nervous system disorders

What are the available treatments for cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS)?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cyclic vomiting syndrome, so treatment for the condition is symptomatic and supportive. These treatment options include:
  • Anti-nausea drugs
  • Sedatives or antidepressants
  • Medications that suppress stomach acid
For people with more frequent or lengthy episodes of vomiting, medications that are commonly used for migraines can be beneficial. In addition to these clinical treatments, lifestyle changes are important for patients. If a particular trigger has been identified, the patient must avoid this trigger. It is also important to drink enough water to prevent dehydration and eat a normal diet.

Where can I find more information on cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS)?

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) Articles