What is Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS)?
Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a condition of recurrent episodes of intense nausea and vomiting lasting hours to days separated by completely symptom-free periods. The cause is unknown but there appears to be an increased incidence in children who have a family or personal history of migraines.
Incidence of CVS
CVS occurs most commonly in children ages 3 to 7 years old but can occur at any age, including adulthood.
Signs and Symptoms of CVS
There may or may not be a warning sign or trigger prior to the start of a cyclic vomiting episode. If there is a trigger or warning sign, it may occur within minutes to hours prior to the episode.
Some examples of triggers or warning signs:
- Feeling tired
- Foods like chocolate and cheese
- Eating too much or right before bed
- Increased physical exertion
- Lack of sleep
- Motion sickness
- Hormonal changes
- Stress (good and bad)
- Sinus problems
During the vomiting episode, other symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Unable to eat, drink, or take medications
- Light or sound sensitivity
Diagnosis of CVS
Members of your child’s healthcare team might ask if your child has had:
- Three or more episodes a year with severe vomiting and nausea
- Two episodes that have lasted for hours to days but less than a week
- Periods of being symptom-free with no nausea or vomiting
There is no one specific test to diagnose cyclic vomiting. Your child’s healthcare team will rule out other causes of the symptoms such as:
- Inner ear problems
- Metabolic problems
- Intestinal problems such as a rotation in the intestines, or blockage
- Kidney problems
- Central nervous system problems
- Eating disorders
Treatment for CVS
There is no cure for CVS, but there are treatments. Each child's treatment plan is unique.
Treatment options can include:
- Dietary and lifestyle changes (avoiding dietary triggers, getting enough sleep)
- Medications (to prevent episodes or stop an episode)
- IV fluids
- Other supportive measures (counseling, family support)
Over time, most children do grow out of CVS.
Call Your Child's Doctor If Your Child Experiences:
- Signs of possible dehydration – dizziness, weakness, dark urine, eyes sunken, eyes unable to make tears, loss of sweat in armpits and groin, or heart palpitations.
- Unusual behavioral or motor / balance changes
- Vomiting violently with no relief with prescribed medications
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe headache
- High fever
- Coughing up blood from vomiting