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What is CVS?

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a disorder with repeated episodes of severe nausea and vomiting that alternate with symptom free periods. It occurs in children and adults.

What are the signs and symptoms of CVS?

The symptom episodes tend to follow the same pattern in each person with CVS over time. There are typically four phases:

  • The first phase is relatively symptom-free. It occurs between vomiting episodes and usually lasts weeks to months.
  • During the second phase the coming on of an episode is felt. There is nausea, but oral medicines may still be taken. This phase lasts minutes to hours.
  • In the third phase there is intense nausea and vomiting, and an inability to eat, drink, or take medicines without vomiting. Other symptoms may include belly pain, hot sweats, cold chills, headache, sensitivity to light and sounds, and diarrhea. The person may be drowsy and withdrawn. This phase lasts from hours to days.
  • In the fourth phase, recovery begins with the settling down of symptoms and ends with going back to a normal diet and a return to the relatively symptom-free period.

In CVS, the pattern of these episodes repeats over a long-term, with 3 or more episodes a year.

Working with Your Doctor

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Successful relationships with healthcare providers are an important part of managing life with a long-term digestive disorder.

Doctor–Patient Communication

How to Help Your Doctor Help You

How to Talk to Your Doctor