Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

What Is Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome?

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is a condition in which an individual has episodes of severe vomiting without any known cause. These episodes may last for hours to days, and with days of no episodes in between. The episodes are quite similar to each other which means that the episode will start at one particular time of the day everyday and last for the same amount of time and are of the same severity and intensity. At one time, it was believed that Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome or Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome only affects children but later on it was found that this condition can affect people of all age groups. Some studies suggest Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is more prevalent in individuals who have a history of migraines. In such individuals the episodes can be so severe that it can make an individual bedridden for some days. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is a difficult condition to diagnose as vomiting can be caused due to many different reasons. Treatment of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is basically supportive with certain lifestyle changes and avoiding triggers which can spark off an episode. Anti-nausea and medications for migraines are helpful in relieving symptoms.

What Are The Causes Of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome?

The exact cause of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is unknown but certain conditions which can trigger an episode are:

What Are The Causes Of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome?

  • Common Colds
  • Allergies
  • Sinus problems
  • Emotional stress
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Foods like chocolate or cheese
  • Overeating
  • Hot and humid weather conditions
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Menstrual periods
  • Motion sickness.

Facts About Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

  • Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is a pathological condition, normally found in children, in which there are repeated bouts of severe nausea and vomiting along with extreme lethargy without any known apparent cause.
  • This illness can be present for quite a few months and even may not be relieved for many years
  • The root cause of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome still remains unknown.
  • Due to repeated and severe vomiting episodes due to this disease a number of complications can occur like dehydration, inflammation of the esophagus, Mallory-Weiss tear, or abnormal decaying of tooth of the child.
  • The frequency and intensity of the vomiting episodes vary from person to person and depends on whether the disease is in its initial stage or at the fag end of the disease process.
  • Clinical features of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome are repeated bouts of severe nausea and vomiting for no apparent cause which may last for days.
  • Adequate rest is the first thing recommended for people with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome along with taking regular antiemetic medications. Medications used for migraine disorders are also helpful in this disease
  • In the period of remission from this disease, the affected person is recommended to take a well balanced diet and take regular meals.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome?

Some of the symptoms of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome are:

  • Severe vomiting episodes that occur multiple times in a day and may last for a week or so
  • More than three episodes of vomiting of unknown cause
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Photosensitivity
  • Excessive thirst
  • Reduced urination
  • Physical exhaustion.

How Is Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Diagnosed?

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is a difficult condition to diagnose as its symptoms are quite similar to other medical conditions. There is no specific method to pinpoint the diagnosis of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. The treating physician will first inquire about the personal history of the individual and then conduct a physical examination. Apart from that, studies may be recommended like endoscopy or CT scan to look for blockages in the digestive tract. The physician may also order motility test to examine the movement of the food through the digestive tract to look for any other digestive conditions causing vomiting.

What Are Treatments For Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome?

Thus far, there is no definitive cure for Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome thus treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms and preventing complications: The treating physician may prescribe the following medications for symptom control:

  • Anti-vomiting medications
  • Sedatives
  • Medications to suppress stomach acid
  • Antidepressants
  • Medications used for migraines are also useful in symptoms control in Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.

Some of the medications prescribed to prevent or abort repeated vomiting episodes are:

  • Amitriptyline
  • Topamax
  • Zonisamide
  • Levetiracetam
  • Propranolol
  • Phenobarbital
  • Erythromycin
  • Promethazine
  • Prochlorperazine.

Complications Due To Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

As stated, due to the severity of the vomiting in Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, it may result in various complications. Some of the complications due to Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome are:

  • Dehydration: This may occur when the fluids lost due to persistent vomiting and diarrhea is not replenished back. Severe cases of dehydration may require administration of IV fluids
  • Inflammation Of Esophagus: This can be caused due to the stomach acid that comes out through the esophagus when vomiting.
  • Mallory-Weiss Tear: This can be caused due to severe vomiting episodes and requires immediate medical attention.

Is There Any Alternative Treatment For Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome?

The answer to it is some researchers are of the opinion that there are alternative ways of treating Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome even though the efficacy of such treatments has not been proved yet. Some of the alternative ways of treating Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome are:

Biofeedback: it is a novel way of coping with stress which is a major factor in triggering a Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and is recommended by many psychologist as a way to reduce stress

Carnitine: This is a natural substance which is made in the body itself and is also available as a supplement. This supplement helps the body convert fat into an energy source

CO-Q 10: This is yet another substance that is naturally produced in the body and is available as a supplement.

Both Carnitine and CO-Q 10 works by helping with mitochondrial dysfunction in which the body finds it difficult to convert fat into energy and both these supplements help the body just do that. Some researchers are of the belief that mitochondrial dysfunction is a major factor in development of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.

As is the case with all medications and supplements, they come with an inherent side effects profile. Some of the side effects of Carnitine and CO-Q 10 are quite similar to that of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome like nausea, diarrhea, or appetite loss.

It is imperative that an individual discusses with the treating physician before starting any sort of supplement to avoid any adverse effects.

Home Remedies & Diet For Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

  • Lifestyle changes are extremely important for people with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. Individuals with this condition need to get adequate sleep, thus if in a vomiting cycle, it is best to stay in bed and rest, preferably in a dark room.
  • Once a cycle of vomiting is over, the individual needs to consume plenty of fluids to replace the electrolytes that have been lost due to vomiting electrolytes. It is preferable to start eating thin liquid diet once the vomiting cycle has stopped although some individual may feel good enough to start their normal diet.
  • It is important to avoid triggers that start vomiting episodes. For example, if stress acts as a trigger for a vomiting episode then the individual needs to find ways in the form of exercises or yoga to reduce stress and thus avoiding cyclic vomiting.
  • Diet For Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome: It is preferable to avoid dairy products like cheese, milk, chocolates and meat products like beef, beef extracts, pork, shellfish etc. Stay away from alcohol and cigarettes. Avoid having spicy food. Drinking coconut water can be beneficial.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: October 27, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

Symptom Checker

Slideshow:  Home Remedies, Exercises, Diet and Nutrition

Chakra's and Aura's

Yoga Information Center

Find Pain Physician

Subscribe to ePainAssist Newsletters

By clicking Submit, I agree to the ePainAssist Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of ePainAssist subscriptions at any time.

Copyright © 2016 ePainAssist, All rights reserved. Protection Status