Beware of CVS- Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is an illness that causes episodes of severe vomiting for no apparent reason and can have long-term effects on sufferers

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is an illness that causes episodes of severe vomiting for no apparent reason. These episodes can last for hours or days and alternate with symptom-free periods.
Cyclic vomiting syndrome occurs in all age groups, though it often begins in children around 3 to 7 years old. Although more common in children, the number of cases diagnosed in adults is increasing.
Glenda and Adam
To fully understand the illness Family Friendly HQ spoke to Glenda, mum to Adam who helped us to understand the illness more in the hope that it will create awareness for this awful condition.
Adam is 13 years old and he has been diagnosed as having ASD and ADHD, Adam recently began secondary school. Glenda reflects on past experiences when Adam was sick even as a baby and she wasn’t aware of the condition CVS. It was only when these episodes became more prevalent that Adam was referred to a specialist.
“Getting diagnosed was difficult and some doctors were unaware of the illness” but Glenda continues, “More are aware now, but some still don’t understand it.” Glenda often questioned herself and felt stupid sitting in waiting rooms with a perfectly healthy child in between episodes.
While symptoms alter between sufferer to sufferer, Adam will burp and yawn excessively before going pale and complaining of a sore tummy. When in an episode Adam will vomit every 20 minutes for up to 4-6 hours. At other times, Adam suffers excruciating stomach pain without any vomiting.
The syndrome is difficult to diagnose because vomiting is a symptom of many disorders. Treatment often involves lifestyle changes to help prevent the events that can trigger vomiting episodes. Medications, including anti-nausea and migraine therapies, may help lessen symptoms.
Symptoms of CVS
  • Severe episodes of vomiting that can last for up to one week
  • Severe nausea
  • Extreme sweating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness and weakness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headache
  • Retching and gagging
Glenda has learnt to keep track of triggers and notes that Adam's are dairy, seafood, travelling, anxiety and tiredness. Recently Glenda realised some antibiotics were causing triggers too.
CVS can be triggered by colds, flu or sinus problems. Anxiety or times of stress are said to set it off as does hot weather or physical exertion. Getting enough sleep is recommended as well as avoiding trigger foods. It is advised that sufferers avoid stressful situations and that they keep calm at exciting events to avoid a relapse.
Sadly, it is hard for any parent to avoid their child falling into trigger moments as anxiety or stress is of course, a major issue for young people today.
The future
Glenda is optimistic and hopes that Adam will grow out of it though, she worries for his future employment and the fact that he misses quite a bit of school. “Adam often apologises for being ill and it is heart-breaking to hear your child’s distress” Glenda says.
Going forward Adam is currently on anti-sickness medication which sometimes works, sometimes not. Glenda would love to see more research being done to understand CVS properly. More awareness and knowledge is needed for nurses and doctors to provide better medical practice to sufferers. Glenda hopes that one-day CVS will be recognised as the debilitating illness that it is and offer financial supports to those who care for sufferers of CVS. The causes of CVS are still unknown and more research is needed into the illness to fully understand the syndrome however, it is thought to be caused by genetics, digestive system, hormone imbalance or the nervous system.
CVS is an illness that can have long-term effects on sufferers, tooth decay is a common complaint and potential injuries to the food tube. Dehydration can become extremely serious if it gets out of control and some sufferers should go to hospital to manage their fluid intake.
It is a life changing illness and certainly has impacted Adam’s greatly and we wish him all the best in the future. Thank you to Glenda for being so kind to share her and Adam’s story with us here at Family Friendly HQ.
Written by Emma Hayes, staff writer with Family Friendly HQ

Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes is a busy mum to two girls aged 17 and 11 and is married to her childhood sweetheart.

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