Medical marijuana, its benefits and drawbacks are a hotly debated topic in the US. With more & more US states legalizing the use of medical marijuana and licensed cannabis dispensaries becoming commonplace, it’s essential to be aware of the pros & cons of this controversial drug.
Keeping that in mind, here is a highly informative blog on Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome – a health condition that may sometimes develop due to long-term cannabis use.
What is Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome?
Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a rare condition caused by extended use of cannabis. The syndrome involves severe & reoccurring episodes of vomiting, nausea, dehydration and abdominal pain.
It’s important to note that CHS isn’t merely a side effect of marijuana and can cause health complications in the absence of appropriate treatment.
Is Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome Common?
To put CHS in context, very few people with regular cannabis consumption develop this condition. A research study revealed that up to 6% of people who visited the emergency room for vomiting were diagnosed with CHS.
It has been found that generally, there is a delay of many years in the commencement of CHS symptoms preceded by chronic marijuana misuse in almost all cases.
Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome Phases
CHS consists of three phases with a marginal difference in the symptoms that are experienced during each stage:
- Prodromal phase: This is the first phase of CHS and may endure for months or years. The primary symptoms during this phase are usually early morning nausea & abdominal (belly) pain, with some people also experiencing fear of vomiting.
- Hyperemetic phase: A short-lasting phase (24-48 hours) of CHS, it comprises symptoms such as persistent nausea, dehydration, recurring episodes of vomiting, belly pain, reduced food intake & weight loss.
- Recovery phase: The final phase of recovery may last for days or months. It involves a reduction in the symptoms over a period of some days or months before fading away completely.
Diagnosis of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome
CHS diagnosis is primarily conducted based on the symptoms being experienced by the patient. The healthcare provider will enquire about the symptoms and any ongoing or past health conditions. A physical exam will also be conducted, which will comprise examining the belly.
The healthcare provider may ask the following questions:
- Frequency of cannabis consumption?
- Since when have you been using cannabis?
- When do you vomit or experience nausea?
- Whether any specific foods cause vomiting?
- Weight loss without any apparent reason?
- Taking hot baths or showers for alleviating symptoms?
Some healthcare providers may also recommend blood tests, MRI, or a CT scan for ensuring there are no other reasons behind the nausea & vomiting.
Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome Treatment
The only permanent treatment for CHS is to stop cannabis consumption entirely.
Having said that, the following treatments may be required during the hyperemesis phase:
- Medicines to help reduce vomiting
- Frequent hot showers for relieving symptoms
- IV (intravenous) fluid replacement for dehydration
- Proton-pump inhibitors to cure stomach inflammation
- Pain medicine
- Prescribed medicines that have a calming effect
- Drug rehabilitation program
- Cognitive behavioral therapy or family therapy
Studies have shown that most people with CHS who quit cannabis experience relief from symptoms & side effects within 10 days or a few weeks. Nevertheless, full recovery is possible only after a few months.
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