While there is much anecdotal evidence about the connection between CVS and autism, research on the topic is still very new.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a condition that causes episodes of severe nausea, vomiting, and fatigue that last for hours or days at a time.

CVS is rare. Only about 3 out of 100,000 people seem to have it. CVS is more common in children ages 3–7 years.

Some research suggests CVS is associated with several chronic conditions, including migraine, sleep disorders, and anxiety and depression. But could there also be a potential link between CVS and autism spectrum disorder?

This article explores whether CVS is related to autism, including what to consider when treating CVS in autistic people.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a gastrointestinal condition that causes sudden episodes of intense nausea and vomiting.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects a person’s communication, interactions, and behaviors.

According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, ASD is one of a handful of conditions that occurs more frequently in people with CVS.

However, the evidence specifically exploring the relationship between CVS and ASD is extremely sparse. In fact, there are virtually no studies published to date that investigate the rates of CVS in autistic people or vice versa.

In one 2019 review, researchers explored the medical literature on CVS and other conditions frequently associated with it. While they did find a relationship between CVS and several other conditions, autism was not one of them.

A study from 2022 exploring CVS surveyed 67 Italian people. Researchers analyzed various data points, including reported comorbidities. Survey results found that the most common comorbidity was headache ― with ASD only reported in one person from all the clinics surveyed.

Researchers still aren’t entirely sure what causes CVS. One theory is that it has something to do with the connection between the brain and the gut.

Experts believe changes in gastrointestinal motility, the nervous system, hormonal imbalances, and genetic abnormalities may contribute to CVS.

All these factors can change how the brain and the digestive system communicate, which may explain these sudden and severe episodes of nausea and vomiting.

According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, research suggests there’s a relationship between CVS and several other conditions, such as:

When someone has CVS, they experience intense episodes of nausea and vomiting alongside other symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, and headache.

These episodes can happen several times an hour. They may last anywhere from 1 hour to 10 days.

People living with CVS often have triggers that cause their symptoms to flare up. Some common triggers of episodes include:

  • excitement or exhaustion
  • stress and anxiety
  • bacterial or viral infections
  • alcohol and certain foods
  • weather or hormonal changes

There’s no cure for CVS. Instead, the goal of treatment is to manage symptoms during episodes and prevent future episodes.

Generally, treatment includes:

  • medications to address symptoms and prevent episodes
  • increased fluids to prevent dehydration
  • extra rest during episodes, if needed

Autistic people can choose any of these treatment options to help manage their symptoms in the long term. However, one area in which autistic people might experience difficulty is with dietary approaches to managing CVS.

While no specific diet can help prevent or treat CVS, focusing on good nutrition after and between episodes is important. Learn more about tailoring your diet to manage CVS here.

Some autistic people experience food aversions, making it difficult to get the nutrition they need right after or between episodes. So, it can be helpful to find a nutritionist knowledgeable about both CVS and autism who can help offer more personalized dietary recommendations.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a rare gastrointestinal condition that causes frequent episodes of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and other symptoms. It’s most common in younger children, but some adults can also develop it.

Some researchers believe there may be a link between CVS and other conditions, including autism spectrum disorder. However, no studies have specifically explored the relationship between CVS and autism.

If you or someone you love has CVS, consider reaching out to a doctor to explore treatment options. With the right approach, you can better manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of future episodes.