December 1, 2015
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Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS)

Cyclic vomiting syndrome facts*

*Cyclic vomiting syndrome facts medical author: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a disorder that causes recurrent episodes of nausea, vomiting, and tiredness (lethargy) most often in children but may occur in all age groups.
  • Symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome are repeated attacks of intense nausea, vomiting, and lethargy that last anywhere from an hour to 10 days; other symptoms may include pale skin, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, and an increased sensitivity to light or to sound.
  • The most common situations that cause cyclic vomiting syndrome are emotional excitement and infections; other triggers can include periods without eating, temperature extremes, lack of sleep, overexertion, allergies, ingesting certain foods or alcohol, and menstruation.
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome has four phases: symptom-free, prodrome, vomiting, and recovery.
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome is diagnosed by the patient's history and symptoms.
  • Treatment is done by the patient learning to avoid the causes or triggers of the disorder; however, during the prodrome, vomiting and recovery phases, medications are often used to treat the symptoms (for example, anti-nausea medications, NSAIDs, anti-migraine medications, fluid replenishment and others).
  • Complications may include pain, reflux, fainting, depression, panic disorder, and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome is generally considered to be a variant of migraines by researchers.
  • "Cyclic vomiting syndrome plus" is considered a diagnosis when a patients also exhibit symptoms of developmental delay or intellectual disability, muscle weakness (myopathy), and/or seizures.
  • The disorder has a wide range of reported prevalence, about 4 to 2000 per 100,000 children; but seems to occur less frequently in adults although the data is not clear.
  • Researchers suggest several factors may contribute to the disorder: brain function disorder, hormonal abnormalities, GI problems, migraine-like conditions, and changes in mitochondrial DNA.
  • Some people may inherit the changes in mitochondrial DNA that may cause the disorder.

What is cyclic vomiting syndrome?

Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a disorder that causes recurrent episodes of nausea, vomiting, and tiredness (lethargy). This condition is diagnosed most often in young children, but it can affect people of any age.


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