Cyclic vomiting syndrome: treatment options

Exp Brain Res. 2014 Aug;232(8):2549-52. doi: 10.1007/s00221-014-3989-7. Epub 2014 May 28.


Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of severe nausea and vomiting separated by symptom-free periods. Our aims were to review treatments of adult cyclic vomiting syndrome as well as to identify areas for further clinical research and the unanswered questions in this field. We conducted a PubMed search using such keywords as "cyclic vomiting syndrome," "nausea," "vomiting," "treatment," "trigger factors" and "tricyclic antidepressants" and combined this information with the knowledge and clinical research from the authors. Available data show that in adult cyclic vomiting syndrome, there is an impressive and sustained response to high-dose tricyclic antidepressants. In up to 13% who are regarded as poor responders to tricyclic antidepressants, a predictable profile can be identified related to coexisting psychological disorders, marijuana use, poorly controlled migraine headache or chronic narcotic use. Cyclic vomiting syndrome in adults is being an increasingly recognized entity. Tricyclic antidepressants are the main treatment for controlling symptoms. Eliminating and addressing trigger factors are an essential part of management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • PubMed / statistics & numerical data
  • Vomiting / drug therapy*
  • Vomiting / physiopathology


  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic

Supplementary concepts

  • Familial cyclic vomiting syndrome