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Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

There are many ailments that affect our population that remain a mystery, and cyclic vomiting syndrome is one of them.  In my experience, it seems to be a diagnosis of exclusion.  That means that everything else has been ruled out, and at the end of the diagnostic trail, we end up with some sort of “abdominal migraine” or cyclic vomiting syndrome.

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What is CVS?  It’s a collection of symptoms, mostly, that are not better explained by other causes.  Hallmark features include:  intractable nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain that recur at regular intervals.  Typically this syndrome affects children ages 3-7, and is less common in adults.  A family history of migraine headaches is common, and the patient may experience symptoms of migraine headaches as well. 

CVS is a difficult disease to have because there is no known (medical) cure, and all the studies and tests that doctors perform fail to show abnormality that would suggest this particular disease.  And as patients endure the recurrent bouts of vomiting and abdominal pain, they become frustrated that no one seems to know what’s wrong with them, or how to “fix” it.  Additionally, physicians become frustrated because an unsatisfied patient becomes a thorn in their side…and seeing their name come up on the clinic schedule (or ER patient list) is deflating in anticipating of an unpleasant interaction. 

What can you do about CVS?  Well, if the scientists/physicians are unsure of the cause, and the only treatment options are symptomatic (meaning, they just mask symptoms, but do not deal with the root cause of the problem), there’s not much we recommend….typically.

In my experience, CVS affects the children (usually girls) of well nourished, well-to-do, educated parents.  Based on the age of onset, and the cyclic nature of the symptoms, it seems to me that a hormonal component is likely.  This would also support the known connection between CVS and migraine headaches. 

We’re seeing the onset of puberty occur earlier and earlier, especially in African American girls.  It is not terribly unusual to see breast buds and pubic/maxillary hair development in 6 and 7 years old girls, and this is not necessarily normal.  The cause of precocious puberty, migraine headaches, and cyclic vomiting syndrome is likely the hormone supplementation our girls ingest in their foods.  Doesn’t it make sense that ingesting hormones would result in “hormone based” problems?

To alleviate symptoms of CVS, I would recommend a total lifestyle make-over.  Start with only feeding your child organic meats (no hormones, no antibiotics).  Do not eat out (you cannot be sure that the ingredients used to prepare the food are wholesome and fresh if you do not prepare them yourself).  Avoid dairy products.  Drink plenty of water.  Get a full night’s sleep.   CHANGE THE HYGIENE PRODUCTS to more wholesome (shorter ingredient lists) products.  No parabens, no phthalates, no added “growth enhancers” or “cholesterol” products (because these items may contain estrogen-like substances that would contribute to the body’s hormone imbalance).  Avoid antiperspirants (use organic/natural deodorant instead).  I would even change my laundry detergent and be sure the bed clothes were as organic as possible (new pillow, sheets washed in natural soaps, etc). 

Doing these things won’t HURT your child.  And, on the contrary, will likely ameliorate the symptoms…in a way that will leave your pediatrician scratching his/her head.