Characteristics of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome - Step To Health

Characteristics of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclic vomiting syndrome may manifest with other symptoms such as diarrhea, headaches, and sensitivity to light. It's more frequent in children so parents must be aware of it and consult a doctor if necessary.
Characteristics of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Last update: 30 October, 2021

Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a difficult condition for physicians to deal with. It consists of intense vomiting episodes with no obvious cause. A person with this problem may have periods of time without vomiting though.

However, people who experience this syndrome may seemingly improve only to have another similar episode shortly thereafter. (Hence the name of the syndrome.) We still don’t know how many people it affects but estimates indicate that about 2 % of children under 6 years of age have it.

However, adults can also experience cyclic vomiting syndrome and be diagnosed with it. Today’s article will describe what it is and how to identify it.

What’s cyclic vomiting syndrome?

Vomiting is a nonspecific symptom in humans and it’s usually due to gastrointestinal infection, nervousness, intoxication, and many other causes. This is precisely why cyclic vomiting syndrome is hard to identify.

As we said above, this syndrome consists of episodes of continuous vomiting for apparently no reason. The episodes may last hours or days. The main characteristic of this pathology is that, after an episode, there’s a problem-free period.

However, after a certain period of time, vomiting recurs. Interestingly, the second episode is usually similar to the first. That is, the vomiting comes and goes and lasts practically the same amount of time as the previous ones.

As we mentioned above, it can affect any age although it’s much more frequent in children. Scientists haven’t been able to find the cause even though someone first described it in 1882. They definitely noticed it’s more frequent in girls and those with celiac disease.

A nauseated child.
Cyclic vomiting syndrome is more frequent in children.

Find out more about Antiemetic Drugs to Prevent Nausea and Vomiting

Other symptoms

In order to be able to state that a given condition is actually cyclic vomiting syndrome, a person must have at least three similar episodes. There must also be a period of sound health between episodes.

The episodes usually begin suddenly, almost always during the night. Also, the vast majority of cases appear after an infection or a stressful situation. Some believe that certain foods, such as chocolate, may trigger them.

In addition, there are usually more than four vomiting episodes in a single hour. Furthermore, these last between one and four days on average. In addition to the similarity between one event and another, the health periods are also often similar. That is, the episodes are spaced equally between one and the other.

Nausea, diarrhea, and headache are also common. Similarly, people with this condition often experience sensitivity to light and dizziness. It’s a stressful and even embarrassing situation psychologically.

A dizzy woman.
Dizziness is often a symptom of cyclic vomiting.

Check out these Seven Natural Remedies to Stop Vomiting

How can cyclic vomiting syndrome be treated?

As for the cause, there’s no treatment to cure cyclic vomiting syndrome as of yet. Most measures focus on avoiding possible triggers. In fact, certain medications, such as propranolol, can even be used for preventing it.

The disease is so variable and thus treatment depends on the needs of every patient. Therefore, various medications are available when the episode occurs — despite any preventive measures. Some of them are ondansetron and lorazepam.

Keep in mind that cyclic vomiting can lead to dehydration. Even more so if there’s also diarrhea. This is why it’s essential to stay hydrated and replace lost electrolytes as must as you can.

Always consult a doctor in the event of repeated vomiting

Finally, cyclic vomiting syndrome is still a mystery for physicians, especially for pediatricians. It’s also necessary to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms. This is why it’s important for parents to consult a physician and run the situation by them.

It might interest you...
How to Prevent Nausea and Vomiting in Babies
Step To Health
Read it in Step To Health
How to Prevent Nausea and Vomiting in Babies

If a young child is afflicted by nausea and frequent vomiting, then keeping them hydrated is a priority. You must follow the instructions of a pedi...

  • Kenny, P. (n.d.). Síndrome de vómitos cíclicos: un enigma pediátrico vigente Actualización. Síndrome de Vómitos Cíclicos. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2020, from
  • Rivas Domingo, Dency, and Trini Fragoso Arbelo. “Síndrome de vómitos cíclicos.” Revista Cubana de Pediatría 79.3 (2007): 0-0.
  • López-Úbeda, Marta, et al. “Síndrome de vómitos cíclicos: un reto en el diagnóstico y tratamiento.” Rev Mex Ped 83 (2016): 20-23.