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Marijuana Illness: What You Need To Know About Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

By Christie Abagon , Jan 06, 2017 08:45 PM EST
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A vomiting disorder linked to heavy marijuana use is on the rise in the U.S.  Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) cases spiked as access to legal marijuana become widespread.

CHS Was First Described In 2004

According to Health Aim, symptoms of CHS include intense vomiting and abdominal pain.  Taking hot showers seem to be a remedy for those suffering from CHS, reports say, and this serves as an important hint to doctors in diagnosing a patient. 

The Huffington Post reported that emergency rooms in areas where cannabis is legal are reporting more cases of CHS.  The illness was first described by Australian scientists in 2004.  Ever since the study was published, experts have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of the syndrome, but they do know that abstaining from pot generally helps people stop vomiting.

If The CHS Is Severe, It May Lead To Kidney Failure

Dr. Kennon Heard, physician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, said that the science behind the mysterious illness is not clear.  The most likely cause, he said, is that people using marijuana frequently and in high doses have changes in the receptors in their body, and those receptors become dysregulated in some way, and it starts causing pain.

 "Patients are given IV fluids and medication to resolve the vomiting and help with the pain," Heard further explained.  He added that the treatment is really to stop using marijuana or "at least to cut back severely, and that's really the only way to make it better."

In severe cases, the illness can lead to kidney failure, but if a patient stops using marijuana, the symptoms usually disappear within days.  Recently, there is still no research as to how common CHS is among cannabis users and the risk factors for developing it have not been identified.  It is also not clear as to how often marijuana for medical use would lead to excessive cannabis use. 

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