Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) (cont.)
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What are the four phases of cyclic vomiting syndrome?
Cyclic vomiting syndrome has four phases:
Symptom-free interval phase. This phase is the period between episodes when no symptoms are present.
Prodrome phase. This phase signals that an episode of nausea and vomiting is about to begin. Often marked by nausea - with or without abdominal pain - this phase can last from just a few minutes to several hours. Sometimes, taking medicine early in the phase can stop an episode in progress. However, sometimes there is no warning; a person may simply wake up in the morning and begin vomiting.
Vomiting phase. This phase consists of nausea and vomiting; an inability to eat, drink, or take medicines without vomiting; paleness; drowsiness; and exhaustion.
Recovery phase. This phase begins when the nausea and vomiting stop. Healthy color, appetite, and energy return.
How is cyclic vomiting syndrome diagnosed?
Cyclic vomiting syndrome is hard to diagnose because no tests - such as a blood test or X-ray - can establish a diagnosis of cyclic vomiting syndrome. A doctor must look at symptoms and medical history to rule out other common diseases or disorders that can cause nausea and vomiting. Making a diagnosis takes time because the doctor also needs to identify a pattern or cycle to the vomiting.
How is cyclic vomiting syndrome treated?
Treatment varies, but people with cyclic vomiting syndrome generally improve after learning to control their symptoms. People with cyclic vomiting syndrome are advised to get plenty of rest and sleep and to take medications that prevent a vomiting episode, stop one in progress, speed up recovery, or relieve associated symptoms.
Once a vomiting episode begins, treatment usually requires the person to stay in bed and sleep in a dark, quiet room. Severe nausea and vomiting may require hospitalization and intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. Sedatives may help if the nausea continues.
Sometimes, during the prodrome phase, it is possible to stop an episode from happening. For example, people with nausea or abdominal pain before an episode can ask their doctor about taking ondansetron (Zofran) or lorazepam (Ativan) for nausea or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain. Other medications that may be helpful are ranitidine (Zantac) or omeprazole (Prilosec), which help calm the stomach by lowering the amount of acid it makes.
During the recovery phase, drinking water and replacing lost electrolytes are important. Electrolytes are salts the body needs to function and stay healthy. Symptoms during the recovery phase can vary. Some people find their appetite returns to normal immediately, while others need to begin by drinking clear liquids and then move slowly to solid food.
People whose episodes are frequent and long-lasting may be treated during the symptom-free intervals in an effort to prevent or ease future episodes. Medications that help people with migraine headaches, such as propranolol (Inderal), cyproheptadine (Periactin), and amitriptyline (Elavil), are sometimes used during this phase, but they do not work for everyone. Taking the medicine daily for 1 to 2 months may be necessary before one can tell if it helps.
The symptom-free interval phase is a good time to eliminate anything known to trigger an episode. For example, if episodes are brought on by stress or excitement, a symptom-free interval phase is the time to find ways to reduce stress and stay calm. If sinus problems or allergies cause episodes, those conditions should be treated.
During an episode, anti-migraine drugs such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) may be prescribed to stop symptoms of migraine headache. However, these agents have not been studied for use in children.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2012