About cyclic vomiting syndrome (cvs)

What is cyclic vomiting syndrome (cvs)?

Cyclic vomiting syndrome is characterized by episodes of severe vomiting that have no apparent cause. Episodes can last for hours or days and alternate with symptom-free periods. Episodes are similar, meaning that they tend to start at the same time of day, last the same length of time, and occur with the same symptoms and intensity.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome occurs in all age groups, though it often begins in children around 3 to 7 years old. Although it's more common in children, the number of cases diagnosed in adults is increasing.

The syndrome is difficult to diagnose because vomiting is a symptom of many disorders. Treatment often involves lifestyle changes to help prevent the events that can trigger vomiting episodes. Medications, including anti-nausea and migraine therapies, may help lessen symptoms.

What are the symptoms for cyclic vomiting syndrome (cvs)?

Other signs and symptoms during a Vomiting episode may include:

What are the causes for cyclic vomiting syndrome (cvs)?

The underlying cause of cyclic vomiting syndrome is unknown. Some possible causes include genes, digestive difficulties, nervous system problems and hormone imbalances. Specific bouts of vomiting may be triggered by:

  • Colds, allergies or sinus problems
  • Emotional stress or excitement, especially in children
  • Anxiety or panic attacks, especially in adults
  • Certain foods and drinks, such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate or cheese
  • Overeating, eating right before going to bed or fasting
  • Hot weather
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Exercising too much
  • Menstruation
  • Motion sickness

Identifying the triggers for vomiting episodes may help with managing cyclic vomiting syndrome.

What are the treatments for cyclic vomiting syndrome (cvs)?

There's no cure for cyclic vomiting syndrome, though many children no longer have vomiting episodes by the time they reach adulthood. For those experiencing a cyclic vomiting episode, treatment focuses on controlling the signs and symptoms.

You or your child may be prescribed:

  • Anti-nausea drugs
  • Pain-relieving medications
  • Medications that suppress stomach acid
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure medications

The same types of medications used for migraines can sometimes help stop or even prevent episodes of cyclic vomiting. These medications may be recommended for people whose episodes are frequent and long lasting, or for people with a family history of migraine.

IV fluids may need to be given to prevent dehydration. Treatment is individualized based on the severity and duration of symptoms as well as the presence of complications.

What are the risk factors for cyclic vomiting syndrome (cvs)?

The relationship between migraines and cyclic vomiting syndrome isn't clear. But many children with cyclic vomiting syndrome have a family history of migraines or have migraines themselves when they get older. In adults, cyclic vomiting syndrome is also associated with a personal or family history of migraines.

Chronic use of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) also has been associated with cyclic vomiting syndrome because some people use marijuana to relieve their nausea. However, chronic marijuana use can lead to a condition called cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, which typically leads to persistent vomiting without normal intervening periods. People with this syndrome often demonstrate frequent showering or bathing behavior.

Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome can be confused with cyclic vomiting syndrome. To rule out cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, you need to stop using marijuana for at least one to two weeks to see if vomiting lessens. If it doesn't, your doctor will continue testing for cyclic vomiting syndrome.

Is there a cure/medications for cyclic vomiting syndrome (cvs)?

Severe nausea, vomiting, and exhaustion are the conditions that shows Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS).


  • Doctors diagnose CVS by ruling out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. They include:
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), Volvulus or malrotation (twisting of the intestine), UPJ obstruction (a urinary blockage at the point where one of the kidneys attaches to one of the tubes to the bladder [the ureters]).
  • A number of different tests to rule out metabolic disorders.
  • Further, the doctor will ask questions about your medical and family history.
  • Your digestive system and nervous system may be examined.
  • Metabolic and liver function tests and tests on the blood and urine may be performed.


  • In the early phase, when the first episode of CVS starts, doctors use drugs to control nausea, reduce stomach acid production and relieve migraine symptoms and abdominal pain.
  • In the vomiting phase, doctors use medicines to control migraine pain and to reduce stomach acid and anxiety.
  • In episodes lasting several days, IV fluids and nutrition may be needed.
  • Preventive medicines like amitriptyline (Elavil®) or cyproheptadine (Periactin®) can help to control your future episodes.


  • Abortive therapy: This type of therapy is given at the time of an episode and is meant to lessen the intensity or stop (abort) your attack after it starts.
  • Preventive therapy: This therapy is used to decrease the severity or stop nausea attacks.

Severe nausea,Vomiting,Exhaustion
Amitriptyline (Elavil®),Cyproheptadine (Periactin®)
Repeated episodes of severe nausea,Heaving or gagging,Lack of appetite,Sensitivity to light,Pain in the abdomen,Pale appearance to the skin,Severe fatigue,Not wanting to talk,Severe headaches,etc

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