What is cannabis hyperemesis syndrome?

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome
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Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome: Overview

Cannabis hyperemesis (say "CAN-uh-bus hy-per-EM-uh-sus") syndrome is repeated episodes of nausea, severe vomiting, and usually belly pain. It can happen when you use marijuana a lot—weekly or daily, usually for a year or more.

You may vomit as many as 20 times a day. The vomiting may last more than 24 hours. It can cause dehydration. In severe cases, not having enough fluid in your body can lead to kidney problems.

Your doctor may ask you if taking a hot shower or bath helps relieve your symptoms. Getting relief by taking hot showers is a sign that you could have this health problem.

You may get I.V. fluids to treat dehydration. You may also get medicine to stop the nausea and vomiting. The best long-term treatment is to stop using marijuana. This is true whether you use it for recreation or as medicine to treat nausea or chronic pain. This may differ from what you've heard or experienced about marijuana's ability to ease nausea. But marijuana can start causing nausea and vomiting even if you've used it for a long time without problems.

How can you care for yourself when you have cannabis hyperemesis syndrome?

  • Stop using marijuana. The nausea and vomiting will stop soon after, often within a couple of days or weeks. They shouldn't come back as long as you're not using marijuana.
  • Take a hot shower or bath. This often relieves nausea and vomiting. Make sure the water is not so hot that it burns your skin.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have trouble stopping marijuana use. You may learn about treatment programs that can help you stop using it. If you're using marijuana to relieve pain or nausea, your doctor may suggest another treatment.
  • To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and other clear liquids until you feel better. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • If you do not feel like eating or drinking, try taking small sips of water, sports drinks or other rehydration drinks.

Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have vomiting that doesn't stop.
  • You can't keep down fluids.
  • You have symptoms of dehydration, such as:
    • Feeling confused and not able to think clearly.
    • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded or like you may faint.
    • Signs of needing more fluids. You have sunken eyes and a dry mouth, and you pass only a little urine.
  • You have new or worsening belly pain.
  • You have a new or higher fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You think you have a problem with marijuana use.
  • You want help to quit using marijuana.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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