While some of the symptoms of cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) can be severe, the condition doesn’t shorten your life expectancy.

CVS is a chronic condition that causes repeated episodes of nausea and vomiting.

Episodes are difficult to manage and can include symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue (low energy), and pallor (paleness).

People with CVS don’t experience these symptoms between episodes, but each CVS episode can last for hours or days.

CVS can lead to complications and can affect quality of life, but it doesn’t affect life span.

CVS causes symptoms that are difficult to manage and that can severely affect your quality of life. This includes:

These symptoms can last for hours or days at a time. But CVS doesn’t affect your life expectancy. It’s not fatal. CVS can lead to some complications, but these aren’t linked to a decrease in life expectancy.

Some complications of CVS have side effects that can be more severe. For example, gastroparesis can increase the risk of ulcers and stomach bleeding.

These complications can sometimes be more serious medical concerns.

Also, CVS episodes can cause dehydration. Any time you experience severe dehydration, your risk of serious medical complications increases. These can include:

Still, these complications are the result of dehydration and not CVS itself. Repeated vomiting or diarrhea always carries a risk of dehydration. It’s important to stay hydrated if you’re experiencing either, no matter the cause.

It’s possible for CVS to get worse with time.

Sometimes, after people have had CVS for years, episodes can start to move increasingly close together. Eventually, the time between severe episodes can be so short that there are no symptom-free periods.

This isn’t a typical experience, and CVS isn’t usually a progressive condition. In fact, it often gets better with time, and can even completely resolve.

It’s common for children with CVS to stop having episodes as they get older. But research suggests that people with childhood CVS might be at increased risk of migraine episodes as adults.

What triggers episodes of cyclic vomiting syndrome?

A wide range of factors can trigger episodes. Triggers are individual and can be highly specific. Some common CVS episode triggers include:

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CVS can lead to some complications. Not everyone with CVS will develop these, and treatment can help reduce the risk of these occurring.

Possible complications of CVS include:

These complications can all have their own symptoms. Without treatment, they can lead to more severe health concerns. Still, treatment is available for CVS and is successful for many people.

How is cyclic vomiting syndrome treated?

A few different treatment options are effective for CVS.

Exact treatment plans depend on the severity and frequency of episodes, and on any other medical conditions you might have. Many common CVS treatments can also treat and help prevent migraine episodes.

Treatment options include:

  • Active migraine medications: Medications called triptans treat migraine episodes and can also treat CVS episodes.
  • Antiseizure medications: For some people, antiseizure medications, such as topiramate and phenobarbital, can help prevent CVS episodes.
  • Antiemetics: Medications called antiemetics can help stop vomiting during an active CVS episode.
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids: IV fluids can help prevent complications such as dehydration. They can also help relieve nausea during severe CVS episodes.
  • Tracking triggers: Tracking triggers can help a person with CVS avoid or prepare for them.
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CVS is a condition that causes repeated episodes of severe and uncontrollable nausea and vomiting.

Each CVS episode can last for hours or days at a time and can include additional symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, headache, and pallor.

CVS can affect quality of life, but it is not fatal. CVS can lead to complications such as dehydration, gastroparesis, and malnutrition, but treatment can help prevent these symptoms.