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Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome: Literature Review and Proposed Diagnosis and Treatment Algorithm

Erik A. Wallace, MD, Sarah E. Andrews, DO, MBA, Chad L. Garmany, MD, Martina J. Jelley, MD, MSPH
Volume: 104 Issue: 9 September, 2011

Abstract:

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is characterized by cyclic vomiting and compulsive bathing behaviors in chronic cannabis users. Patients are typically diagnosed with CHS only after multiple and extensive medical evaluations, consequently without a clear etiology of their symptoms or treatment plan leading to symptomatic improvement. Increased healthcare provider awareness of CHS as a cause of nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain coupled with an attentiveness to focused history taking-especially noting symptomatic improvement with prolonged exposure to hot showers or baths-can lead to effective treatment through cannabis cessation. We propose a diagnosis and treatment algorithm for physicians to follow when evaluating patients presenting with nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain who are suspected to suffer from CHS.

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