Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) Diet

Cyclic vomiting syndrome diet

First recognized in the late 19th century, cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is fairly rare but it can be extremely debilitating for sufferers. While the condition mainly affects children, adults can suffer from the syndrome as well. In fact, it’s thought that increasing numbers of adults have been diagnosed with the condition in recent years.

What is cyclic vomiting syndrome?

The main symptom of cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is periods of intense nausea and vomiting. These episodes tend to last anywhere from a few hours to a few days but episodes can occur fairly regularly.

As most people know, nausea is an extremely unpleasant sensation and sufferers tend to spend long periods of time feeling unwell. However, nausea and vomiting aren’t the only characteristics of CVS. Patients often experience intense fatigue alongside the feelings of nausea. In addition to this, there are reports of patients suffering from abdominal pain, headaches, fever and dizziness.

Although not all patients will experience every symptom, the repeated episodes of vomiting may cause people to experience fatigue or dizziness as a secondary symptom, even if it isn’t directly linked to the disorder itself.

What causes the illness?

As yet, there is no confirmed cause of cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS). This is particularly frustrating for physicians and patients as the unknown cause of the syndrome makes it difficult to treat. However, some studies have shown that patients with CVS also tend to suffer from migraine headaches. If the patient has not yet experienced a migraine, they often have a familial history of the condition, with relatives regularly experiencing painful headaches.

For some patients, the onset of an episode may be preceded by a period of physical or emotional stress. In some cases, stressors, such as infections, colds or emotional turmoil, may occur before the onset of the syndrome or they may exacerbate an existing condition.

Could a cyclic vomiting syndrome diet help?

As physicians are currently unable to provide an effective cure for the condition, they often focus on symptom management. Due to the intense nature of the illness, sufferers often find that they are unable to attend school or work, socialize or even spend time with close friends or family. It’s essential, therefore, that patients are able to minimize the symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) so that they can regain some normality in their lives.

Sufferers often query whether a cyclic vomiting syndrome diet would cure the illness or prevent episodes occurring. While many people assume that a stomach-related illness could be eased to by avoiding certain foods, this isn’t always the case. Although some patients have reported reduced symptoms when following a cyclic vomiting syndrome diet, some medical professionals are hesitant to endorse the effectiveness of such regimes. While a specific cyclic vomiting syndrome diet may not be enough to reduce the frequency of attacks, eating in a certain way may help you to recover from bouts of illness.

Many people find it difficult to eat anything at all while in the vomiting phase of the syndrome. Understandably, a lack of appetite often occurs around this time and patients are simply unable to keep food down. However, once the vomiting stops, patients may benefit from sipping water or drinking liquid foods, such as light soups or broths. Once they are able to consume these, they may also benefit from small snacks.

Although not proven, it’s often thought that dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurts, exacerbate symptoms. While this may not be true for everyone, you may want to follow a cyclic vomiting syndrome diet of elimination in order to try and determine if there are any specific food triggers which apply to you.

What are the complications of cyclic vomiting syndrome?

Due to the nature of this illness, patients can find themselves suffering from further complications and additional illnesses. Being unwell so regularly can lead to feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and desperation. In some cases, this may develop into depression and patients may need to seek medical help as a result.

Dehydration is one of the most common consequences of cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS). When vomiting, patients lose fluids and are unable to replace them. As a result, they can become dehydrated and, in extreme cases, they may need to attend hospital so that IV fluids can be administered.

In addition to this, sufferers of cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) can experience inflammation of the esophagus due to increased stomach acid. Following a severe attack, patients may require emergency treatment to repair tears in the stomach lining. Although this isn’t particularly common, sufferers of CVS may be affected more often than other people.

What’s the future for cyclic vomiting syndrome?

On-going research into the cause of CVS is taking place and it is hoped that scientists and physicians will be able to determine a cause and, therefore, a cure for the illness. In the meantime, however, patients must find a treatment plan which suits their individual needs. If a patient associates an attack with emotional stress, for example, they may seek respite by undertaking meditation, yoga or counseling.

While a mix of medications, diet and alternative therapies may not yet provide a cure for cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS), they can ease CVS symptoms, reduce the frequency of attacks and enable patients to return to their usual lifestyle more quickly.

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Last Reviewed:
June 11, 2017
Last Updated:
June 11, 2017