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Rumination Disorder

What is Rumination Disorder?

Rumination disorder, also known as rumination syndrome, is a repeated and unintended regurgitation of undigested, or partially digested, food. Depending on the person and their condition, food is often either spat out, or re-chewed and swallowed again. This process, in order to be diagnosed as Rumination disorder, is something which occurs frequently (typically every day, at every meal) and is not defined by acute episodes of vomiting.

What are the Symptoms of Rumination Disorder?

Rumination disorder is most defined by the backward flow of recently eaten food, or the regurgitation of substances from stomach to mouth. The process is often described as effortless due to the lack of retching or vomiting. Rumination typically occurs 15-30 minutes after the consumption of food. People living with rumination disorder may experience bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, headaches,  and dizziness. In extreme cases, weight loss, malnutrition, and electrolyte imbalance may occur.

What Causes Rumination Disorder?

While the precise cause of rumination disorder remains unknown, there are several identified correlations and suspected conditions encouraging rumination disorder.

Rumination disorder may occur following (but not necessarily as a direct result of) viral illness, certain injuries, or extreme stress. Notably, the symptoms of rumination disorder persist after these situations have been resolved. Rumination disorder also appears to be more common in people experiencing developmental delays.

How is Rumination Disorder Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is most commonly a result of a careful clinical history, and evaluation. Doctors may look for repeated regurgitation and rechewing or expulsion of food, and a lack of retching. Doctors will also make sure that these conditions are not caused by inflammatory, anatomic, metabolic, or neoplastic processes. In order toe diagnose rumination disorder, these criteria must be met for at least 3 months and symptoms must have begun at least 6 months prior to diagnosis.

Tests such as esophageal manometry, Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, and gastric emptying may be sued to confirm a diagnosis.

What are the Treatments for Rumination Disorder?

The primary form of treatment for ruination disorder is behavioral therapy. Gastroenterologists may advise the patient in relaxation, breathing, and biofeedback techniques. Psychologists, massage therapists, nurses, and recreational therapists may also be involved to provide necessary nutrition, and care for symptoms such as nausea, and anxiety.

In some cases medication may be prescribed if there is damage to the esophagus, or to relax the stomach during eating.

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