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Nauseous man - looking like he needs to vomit.

Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is a complex disorder characterised by recurrent episodes of severe vomiting. As a result, it is often accompanied by nausea and other symptoms. Jenny, our Associate Headache Clinician at the Sunnybank Hills Clinic will share some insights about CVS. Although it primarily affects children, CVS can persist into adulthood, causing significant distress and disruption to daily life. Understanding CVS is crucial for timely diagnosis and effective management. Thus, in this article, we will explore five essential facts about CVS.

Definition and Symptoms:

Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome is a disorder marked by recurrent, unpredictable episodes of severe vomiting. These episodes typically occur at regular intervals, often with a pattern of vomiting several times an hour for several hours or days. Alongside vomiting, individuals with CVS may experience nausea, abdominal pain, pale skin, and sensitivity to light and sound during episodes. At Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic, we know that recognising these symptoms is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. Though the exact cause remains unknown, CVS is believed to involve nervous system dysregulation.

Triggers and Factors:

Identifying triggers and predisposing factors is crucial in managing CVS. While triggers vary from person to person, common factors include emotional stress, infections, certain foods or food additives, hormonal changes, and sleep disturbances. Recognising and avoiding triggers can help reduce the frequency and severity of episodes. Additionally, some individuals with CVS have a family history of migraine headaches or CVS, suggesting a genetic component to the disorder.

Diagnostic Challenges:

Diagnosing Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome can be challenging due to its similarity to gastrointestinal disorders and the absence of specific diagnostic tests. Healthcare providers typically rely on a thorough medical history, physical examination, and exclusion of other possible causes of vomiting, such as gastrointestinal infections, metabolic disorders, and structural abnormalities. Diagnostic criteria established by the International Classification of Headache Disorders can aid in the diagnosis of CVS.

Treatment Approaches:

Treatment for Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome focuses on managing symptoms, preventing episodes, and improving quality of life. Medications such as anti-nausea drugs, migraine medications, and proton pump inhibitors may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms and reduce the frequency of episodes. Lifestyle modifications, including stress management techniques, dietary changes, and maintaining regular sleep patterns, can also play a crucial role in managing CVS. In some cases, psychological interventions may be beneficial, particularly for individuals with underlying psychological stressors. The Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic offers manual therapies, appropriate exercises, and advice regarding lifestyle modifications, to alleviate symptoms and prevent episodes.

Prognosis and Outlook:

The prognosis for CVS varies, but with early diagnosis and comprehensive management, many individuals can lead fulfilling lives. At Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic, we’re committed to supporting individuals with CVS and providing hope for better outcomes.


Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome is a challenging disorder, but with understanding and proper management, individuals can find relief. At Brisbane Headache and Migraine Clinic, we’re dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by CVS through comprehensive care and specialised treatment approaches. By addressing symptoms, identifying triggers, and offering support, we aim to empower individuals to regain control of their health and well-being. Call us on 1800 43 23 22 for more information.



International Classification of Headache Disorders (2019). Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome. Retrieved from


Written by:

Jenny Qian 

Headache Clinician