Understanding Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome
Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is an uncommon health problem in adults. It’s when you have sudden, recurring episodes or attacks of vomiting. The attacks may occur over a period of a few days or weeks. In between the episodes, you are otherwise healthy. You may have CVS for months to years.
What causes cyclic vomiting syndrome
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of CVS. It may be linked to problems with the digestive system or other parts of the body. It may also be genetic. People with the condition often have migraines or a family history of them.
Symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome
The main symptom of CVS is sudden, recurring episodes of vomiting. They happen at least 3 times a year. The episodes follow a similar pattern every time you have them. They tend to start at the same time and last about the same amount of time (hours to days). The pattern is unique to you. Between episodes, you won’t have any nausea or vomiting.
You may have these other symptoms during an attack:
Loss of appetite
Sensitivity to light
Some people with CVS find that symptoms start after a certain trigger. Triggers may include stress, a lack of sleep, an infection, and certain foods like chocolate or cheese. In women, the syndrome may happen at the same time as their menstrual period.
Treatment for cyclic vomiting syndrome
Treatment for CVS may include:
Medicines. Certain medicines may help stop vomiting and nausea. You may need to take them regularly to prevent an attack. Or you may take them to stop or ease an episode once it has started. Medicines include those used to treat migraines and depression.
Supportive care. You may need to stay in the hospital if you have a severe case of CVS. This is to help prevent dehydration. You may need IV fluids. Pain relievers may help with stomach pain.
Lifestyle changes. Trying to stay away from triggers such as stress or certain foods may help prevent symptoms.
Possible complications of cyclic vomiting syndrome
Irritated or damaged esophagus
Call 911 if any of these occur:
Very drowsy or trouble awakening
Fainting or loss of consciousness
Rapid heart rate
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
Unable to keep liquids down (continued vomiting) for 24 hours
Less urine than usual or extreme thirst
Pain that gets worse
Symptoms that don’t get better, or get worse
March 08, 2018
Desilets DJ. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. UpToDate. August 2017:24., Longstreth GF. Approach to the adult with nausea and vomiting. UpToDate. May 2016:14., Malagelada JR, et al. Nausea and Vomiting. In: Feldman M, et al, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10 ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2016:207-220.
Lehrer, Jenifer, MD,Watson, L Renee, MSN, RN