By Dr J P Singh, Pediatrics
Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is a rare disease that is characterized by regular recurring instances of severe vomiting and nausea. A pattern occurs where a period (can range from few hours to few days) of severe vomiting and nausea is followed by a period of time which is free of any disease. The exchange-type pattern of disease-free and disease periods helps differentiate between this disease from other diseases. Sometimes the symptoms can be severe enough to be incapacitating. Some additional symptoms include paleness of skin, dizziness, lack of energy, headaches and abdominal pain. CVS usually affects children more than adults. Although some of the children outgrow these symptoms as they grow older, some of them develop migraines.
The exact reason why CVS occurs is not known. Although nausea and vomiting are the major symptoms, doctors believe the main reason for this condition is the development of abnormalities during the interaction between the brain and the gut. Research has shown that there is a connection between Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and Migraines, while some theories suggest that cyclic vomiting syndrome might be a variant of migraines. A number of children with this disorder have shown a family history of migraines. This disorder can also be referred to as a type of “abdominal migraine”.
Another factor that affects this disorder is improper functioning of the autonomic nervous system. This system controls and regulates certain involuntary functions of the body such as sweat, blood pressure, heartbeats etc. Autonomic disturbances such as high blood pressure, fever, urinary retention and tachycardia are experienced during such episodes.
Some additional conditions such as anxiety, depression, seizures, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities can be experienced during an episode of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.