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Reasons and Interventions for Vomiting on a Chronic Basis

written by: Genevieve Van Wyden • edited by: BStone • updated: 10/22/2010

A chronic vomiting condition is different from a short-lived, episodic illness that causes you to throw up. When you develop a condition that causes you to vomit every day, you are at risk of weight loss, malnutrition, dangerous electrolyte imbalances and tooth decay.

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    Chronic vomiting may be diagnosed when vomiting occurs every day, sometimes more than once a day, for at least one month. When your doctor knows what might be causing the problem, he can treat it more easily. When the cause isn’t known, the doctor and patient begin a process of elimination discussing symptoms as they try to figure out what is causing the vomiting so they can make it stop.

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    Vestibular Neuronitis

    Vestibular neuronitis begins with unexpected vertigo, a spinning sensation that can cause nausea and vomiting. This condition can become progressively worse within several hours before it begins to resolve itself, according to the University of Washington.

    Patients diagnosed with vestibular neuronitis may also have an upper respiratory infection. After the episode ends, the patient continues to experience prolonged dizziness which can last a few weeks all the way up to several months, although no loss of hearing, fullness in the ears or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) exists.

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    GERD

    Gastroesophageal reflux disease can lead to chronic nausea and vomiting as its primary symptoms, according to UWGI. For patients with GERD, esophageal pH studies usually show the presence of acid reflux. In a recent research study, patients suffering from GERD were treated with proton pump inhibitor medications or H2 blocker medications (ranitidine, omeprazole or cisapride). Once these patients had continued medication for six months, their nausea and vomiting were no longer a problem.

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    Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

    Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a condition where the patient experiences episodes of nausea and vomiting that can last up to a month. Some patients with cyclic vomiting syndrome also experience migraine headaches or irritable bowel syndrome. Other patients may develop infections that lead to the cyclic vomiting.

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    Gastroparesis

    Gastroparesis, or a condition where the vagus nerve does not stimulate the stomach muscles to move food to the small intestine, can lead to a chronic vomiting situation. Gastroparesis sometimes leads to the development of a bezoar, or a large, hard formation in the stomach. This bezoar can contribute to stomach blockage as well.

    The doctor can treat gastroparesis with surgery (a gastric pacemaker is inserted), helping the patient get relief from episodes of chronic vomiting.

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    Intestinal Blockage

    Undiagnosed intestinal blockage can lead to chronic vomiting, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Normally, vomiting occurs several hours after a meal and may be accompanied by abdominal pain. Vomiting immediately after eating might indicate a stomach blockage.

    Other causes of intestinal blockage may result from peptic ulcer disease, either in the duodenal bulb or in the pyloric channel, according to UWGI. The patient with chronic vomiting may also have a benign or malignant gastric tumor that doesn’t allow for the passage of food into the small intestine. These patients might say they get full fast, then experience bloating. Abdominal pain develops after eating a meal; symptoms are worse after eating solid food as opposed to having a meal composed of liquids. They feel better after they have vomited.

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    Resources

    http://www.uwgi.org/guidelines/ch_01/ch01txt.htm Nausea and Vomiting in Adolescents and Adults

    http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/gihealth/nausea.asp Nausea and Vomiting