What is Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2019
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Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a type of disorder that affects the digestive symptom. The syndrome is marked by severe episodes of nausea and vomiting that do not seem to be caused by true gastrointestinal illness. A person with this order may vomit repeatedly for an entire day and then appear to be perfectly fine the next. Others may vomit repeatedly over days and weeks, without appearing to have any bacterial or viral illness as a cause.

A person with cyclic vomiting syndrome won’t vomit just a few times like most people do when they’re sick. Someone with this syndrome may vomit up to 12 times in just 60 minutes. When this disorder occurs in children, it is likely to last one to two days. In an adult, however, the repeated vomiting can go on for nearly a week; unfortunately, the symptoms end only to come back later in the year. For children, this type of vomiting may occur about 12 times per year while an adult may have just a few episodes per year.


Episodes of cyclic vomiting syndrome tend to occur either early in the morning or late at night. They may occur before the affected person has even eaten breakfast. Sometimes patients become pale or suffer from exhaustion along with the vomiting and nausea. Some people may feel sensitive to light or develop headaches, fever, or dizziness along with the other symptoms. A person with this syndrome may even have abdominal pain and diarrhea, though this is not always the case.

No one knows for sure what causes cyclic vomiting. However, some people develop symptoms when they have colds or other respiratory conditions. Others develop symptoms in response to stress, excitement, exhaustion, overeating, or menstruation. Some people may have symptoms after eating certain foods, such as chocolate. Exhaustion and extreme heat can trigger symptoms as well.

So far, there is no cure for cyclic vomiting syndrome; treatment typically focuses on keeping the patient comfortable and trying to prevent dehydration. Some people find that lying in a quiet, darkened room may help; sometimes medication, such as antidepressants and analgesics, may be used to prevent bouts. When a person is at risk of dehydration, she may need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous fluids. Some people learn to recognize the signs of an impending episode. In such a case, it may be possible to prevent some episodes by avoiding the things that seem to trigger them.


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Post 3

My toddler has just been diagnosed with CVS after her pediatrician ran through many tests to figure out why she's been vomiting. She has no allergies, no stomach bugs, nothing.

I've been watching her closely for sometime and I know that certain scents and foods make her vomit. Especially when I cook meat and she's near the kitchen, I see her gagging which in turn becomes vomiting. The same thing happens when I ask her to eat foods she doesn't like.

We haven't found any food allergies though and I really don't know what's going on. I'm worried that this will be a bigger issue once she starts kindergarten this fall. I spoke to another parent who's son has CVS and he said that the vomiting cycles get worse at school.

Does anyone else have toddlers or small kids with CVS? Which treatments have you tried and have any of them worked?

Post 2

@turkay1-- I know what you mean, I also have this syndrome although mine doesn't appear to be related to anything in particular. It just comes and goes 3 or 4 times a year.

I have done a lot of reading on it though and I remember that one article was talking about a nerve which runs through the stomach that could be one of the causes of this syndrome. I think it's called Gastroparesis. It's more likely if the vomiting cycles are caused by stress and anxiety. Basically what happens is when you are stressed, the nerve is activated more than usual, triggering nausea and vomiting.

But aside from this, cyclic vomiting syndrome is kind of like a black box. We don't really know why it happens. I've certainly haven't been able to figure it out in the past 10 years I've had it.

Post 1

My close friend who is also my roommate has this syndrome and her vomiting cycles have to do with stress and anxiety. Basically any time that she is under a lot of stress, tension and anxiety, she will start throwing up which usually lasts for days. It seems to go away whenever that cause of the stress and tension goes away.

We've been roommates for about two years and she has had the vomiting cycle during finals, when she got engaged and when she broke up with her fiance. It just happened really suddenly, she couldn't eat anything, felt nauseated all the time and basically sat with a bucket in front of her constantly.

The worst part is

that whenever she goes through one of these, she loses a lot of weight. She's already pretty thin and becomes even thinner which worries me because I know she has an iron deficiency as well. I try and comfort her when it happens and I'm always ready to take her to the hospital if she needs to go. I never knew about cyclic vomiting disorder until I started sharing an apartment with her. Now I understand how difficult it is.

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