Treatment of Adolscent Rumination Syndrome :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Rumination Syndrome Treatment

Several studies of the treatment of rumination syndrome have produced some very positive and exciting findings.  Since ARS is quite complex, it makes sense that research has shown many important components to the treatment of ARS.

  1. Education. Families who understand the diagnosis, do not worry that perhaps another condition is present, and who take an active part in treatment tend to make the most progress in treatment.
  2. Treating the triggers. Treating symptoms such as nausea or bloating that occur after eating can reduce the frequency of the rumination behavior.
  3. Undoing the newly learned “habit.” Treatment includes focusing on increasing awareness of what your abdominal muscles are doing, learning new behaviors for the abdominal muscles instead of tightening, and keeping the body relaxed during mealtimes.
  4. Retraining the stomach to hold food again. Patients benefit from starting very slowly and then gradually increasing their stomach’s ability to tolerate greater amounts of food and fluid.
  5. Teaching self-regulation. Learning how to regulate the autonomic nervous system allows for greater physical relaxation as well as management of the trigger symptoms.
  6. Identifying and addressing other problems. Many patients with ARS also experience depression, anxiety, worry, and stress.  Often, these problems arise from having ARS. These conditions make ARS worse, and tend to make it more difficult to treat.  For this reason, it is important to note when these problems are present, and work on them as part of treatment.

The Adolescent Rumination Syndrome (ARS) Treatment Program was developed based on the components of treatment listed above, and designed specifically to help patients suffering from ARS.  Our program has short-term and long-term goals.

Short-term:

  • To educate patients and families about ARS
  • To evaluate and treat the whole patient, including their rumination, overall GI functioning, nutritional needs, psychological functioning, coping, and physical conditioning.
  • To instruct patients in multiple self-management strategies
  • To have patients use these strategies to keep down enough food and fluid to maintain weight and no longer require tube feedings or IV’s.  
  • To kick off patients’ journey toward resolution of their rumination.

Long-term:

  • To have our patients feel confident and prepared to continue their treatment at home in a real-world setting
  • To have rumination have much less of an impact on the patient’s daily functioning.
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