What is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis is a condition believed to be a side effect of frequent cannabis use. Symptoms include (but are not limited to) nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. If a person believes they have CHS, they should cease THC/CBD use immediately.

CHS is divided into 3 stages: the prodromal phase, the hyperemetic phase, and the recovery phase. It’s important to note that not every CHS patient experiences the same onset of symptoms. 

Prodromal phase
During this phase, the main symptoms tend to be:

  • Early morning nausea
  • Belly (abdominal) pain
  • Burping
  • Heartburn, similar to acid reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Some people also develop a fear of vomiting 

Most people keep normal eating patterns during the prodromal phase. Some people use more cannabis because they hope marijuana’s anti-nausea effects will stop the nausea. This phase may last for months or years.

Hyperemetic phase
Symptoms during the hyperemetic phase may include:

  • Ongoing nausea
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Belly pain
  • Decreased food intake and weight loss
  • Dehydration (which can lead to organ failure)
  • Acid reflux
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Burping
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

During this phase, vomiting is often overwhelming. Many people take frequent hot showers, as doing so eases their nausea. Some people experience burns on the skin from using scalding hot water. Some people seek medical care during this phase. Once a person stops using cannabis, they may remain in the hyperemetic phase for days, weeks, or longer.

Recovery phase
During this time, symptoms go away. Eating is possible again. This phase can last days or months. Symptoms often return if the person tries marijuana again.

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