Dreaded Nausea (2022) Plus Skills or Pills

C DiLorenzo. Front Pediatr 2022; https://doi.org/10.3389/fped.2022.848659. Open Access: Functional Nausea Is Real and Makes You Sick

Couple of key pointers:

Diagnosis:

  • ” I tend to refrain from ordering gastric emptying studies in patients with nausea unless vomiting hours after eating occurs.” According to the article, this is mainly due to the overlap symptoms of gastroparesis and functional dyspepsia, the suboptimal reliability of testing, and the uncertain value of testing in targeting therapy.
  • “Much like in most other DGBI, diagnostic tests in patients with chronic nausea should only be indicated in the presence of other alarm signs or features (weight loss, severe pain, bilious vomiting, etc.) (29). Upper endoscopies are particularly unhelpful with 98% reported to be normal in patient with nausea as the predominant symptom”

Treatment:

  • “Most beneficial treatment is hypnotherapy.” Cognitive behavioral therapy is likely helpful.
  • Medications that may be useful: cryproheptadine, STW5 (an herbal supplement), scopolamine patch, and erythromycin (when there is gastroparesis); “use of psychotropic agents such as amitriptyline, buspirone, and mirtazapine (which decrease visceral hyperalgesia, improve accommodation or accelerate gastric emptying may be justified in selected cases.” There is little evidence that classical antiemetics such as ondansetron are beneficial for functional nausea.
  • Also consider wrist acupuncture &/or commercially available devices based on the same principle, endoscopic injection of botulinum toxin in the pylorus; implantation of a gastric pacemaker improves drug-refractory nausea. Treatment of anxiety and depression, if present, is also beneficial.

My take: This is a useful review on a tough disorder to manage.

Related blog posts

Related article: PD Browne et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022; 20: 1847-1856. Open Access! Skills or Pills: Randomized Trial Comparing Hypnotherapy to Medical Treatment in Children With Functional Nausea

This article found that hypnotherapy was more effective than standard medical therapy during the first 6 months and similar subsequently in children with functional nausea. Standard medical therapy was a progression of treatment:

3 thoughts on “Dreaded Nausea (2022) Plus Skills or Pills

  1. Excellent article and very helpful. But the reality of telling a patient you have functional nausea and go down this treatment path with a disorder that can be very debilitating sometimes and not offer a single test is like sprinkling pixie dust. Even if you have an extended visit and explain everything in detail. We need academic medicine as well as practical medicine in our system.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments. In my experience, most academic practitioners have similar clinical approach as non-academic physicians. I do think that knowing the workup has a very low yield is useful. It may help guide families away from a diagnostic wild goose chase towards a more limited approach.

      • Not really debating academic vs. non-academic….really trying to incorporate a “practical” approach.

        (As a side note, not sure many academic practitioners want to be characterized as similar to non-academic practitioners.)

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