At Gastrointestinal & Liver Specialists of Tidewater, we know that patients and families want to know as much as they can about the GI system and disorders that affect their daily lives. Refer to the list below to find the information that is most helpful to you. If you still have questions, please contact us through our website.

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

What is cyclic vomiting syndrome?
In cyclic vomiting syndrome, people experience bouts or cycles of severe nausea and vomiting that may last for hours or days with longer periods without symptoms. This syndrome was once thought to affect primarily children, but it can affect adults as well. Symptoms typically begin between ages of 3 and 7 years and may be associated with migraine headaches.

What causes cyclic vomiting syndrome?
The cause of cyclic vomiting syndrome remains unknown. However it has been linked to food sensitivities (such as chocolate, soy, or cheese), seasonal allergies and colds, migraine headaches and menstruation.

What are the symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome?
The symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome are severe vomiting, nausea and gagging. Episodes typically begin late at night or early in the morning. In children, attacks typically last between 24 and 48 hours, but adults can have symptoms for almost a week. Approximately one-half of children have attacks at regular intervals, commonly occurring every two to four weeks. Adults may experience episodes at longer intervals. Other symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome may include pale skin, exhaustion, headache, fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Complications of cyclic vomiting syndrome may include dehydration, injury to the esophagus and tooth decay.

How is cyclic vomiting syndrome diagnosed?
Your health care provider will make a diagnosis of cyclic vomiting syndrome by evaluating your symptoms and medical history and by excluding more common diseases or disorders that can also cause nausea and vomiting. In order to be diagnosed with cyclic vomiting syndrome a person must have had three bouts of intense nausea and vomiting in the past year separated by weeks or months without symptoms.

How is cyclic vomiting syndrome treated?
There isn’t a cure for cyclic vomiting syndrome, however many children outgrow cyclic vomiting syndrome by their pre-teen or early teenage years. Treatment varies, but people with cyclic vomiting syndrome are generally advised to get plenty 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 to help replace lost electrolytes. Medications that help people with migraine headaches are sometimes recommended to help stop or prevent episodes of cyclic vomiting.

When to seek immediate medical advice
Seek medical attention if you experience altered mental status, severe headaches, or difficulty with walking.