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.

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Definition

Cyclic vomiting syndrome: A syndrome characterized by episodes, bouts, or cycles of severe nausea and vomiting that last for hours or even days and alternate with longer asymptomatic periods (with no symptoms). The cause of the syndrome is unknown but it is believed by many experts to be related to migraine.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) affects children more often than adults. It starts most commonly between ages 3 and 7. In adults, episodes tend to occur less often but last longer than in children and the events that trigger episodes in adults cannot be pinpointed as easily as they can in children.

SOURCE: Cyclic vomiting syndrome.