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Rumination syndrome – causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 by

Rumination syndrome is a rare and chronic disorder that can affect infants, children, and adults. Individuals with the condition will regurgitate food after it is consumed.

The regurgitation typically happens when food that has recently been eaten rises into the esophagus, throat, and mouth. However, the food isn’t involuntarily expelled from the mouth, like when a person vomits.

The exact cause of rumination syndrome remains unknown and further research can help experts understand this disorder better. While experts believe that the regurgitation itself is unintentional, the action required to regurgitate may be learned. A person with rumination syndrome may not have figured out how to relax their abdominal muscles.

An individual will regurgitate when the diaphragm muscles are contracted.

The symptoms of rumination syndrome are different from those associated with acid reflux and GERD:

  • A patient with acid reflux often feels a burning sensation in the chest and a sour taste in the throat/mouth.
  • When a patient with acid reflux regurgitates food, it tastes sour or bitter, unlike the regurgitated food in rumination syndrome.
  • The symptoms of rumination syndrome aren’t addressed by treatments for acid reflux and GERD.

Rumination syndrome is also called rumination disorder.

Known symptoms, risk factors for rumination syndrome

The main side effect of rumination syndrome is the repeated regurgitation of undigested food. A patient will often regurgitate food at least 30 minutes to two hours after eating. Individuals with the disorder regurgitate every day after almost every meal.

Other side effects of regurgitation syndrome can include:

  • Bad breath
  • Dry mouth or lips
  • Stomachaches or indigestion
  • Tooth decay
  • Unintentional weight loss

The side effects and symptoms of rumination syndrome are the same among both children and adults. However, while adults may have a tendency to spit out regurgitated food, children may simply re-chew and re-swallow the food.

Risk factors for rumination syndrome may include:

  • Having an acute illness
  • Having a mental illness
  • Experiencing a psychiatric disturbance
  • Undergoing major surgery
  • Undergoing a stressful experience

Body systems harmed by rumination syndrome

Rumination syndrome may cause the following complications:

  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Malnutrition
  • Weight loss

Food items or nutrients that may prevent rumination syndrome

The following foods or nutrients can help prevent rumination syndrome or address its side effects, such as malnutrition and weight loss:

  • Blueberries – These berries are full of vitamins and minerals. Blueberries also have powerful antioxidant properties.
  • Egg yolks – Egg yolks are rich in vitamins, minerals, and different nutrients.
  • Garlic – Garlic is nutritious and it contains vitamins B1, B6, and C. It also has calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, and selenium.
  • Kale – Kale is chock-full of nutrients, and it also contains many vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds.
  • Potatoes – Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, nutrients, and resistant starch, a substance similar to fiber that has many potent health benefits.
  • Salmon – Salmon, like other types of fatty fish, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s helps the body function and it can help protect you from various diseases. Salmon also contains vitamins and minerals.

Treatments, management plans for rumination syndrome

Treatment for rumination syndrome aims to change the learned behavior that triggers regurgitation. Healthcare professionals may use different approaches to do this. The methods used will be personalized based on the patient’s age and abilities.

There is currently no medication that can treat rumination syndrome.

The most effective treatment for rumination syndrome is diaphragmatic breathing training. This method will teach a patient how to breathe deeply and relax the diaphragm. When the diaphragm is relaxed, a person is unable to regurgitate.

Diaphragmatic breathing techniques can be applied during and after meals. In time, rumination syndrome will resolve itself.

Other treatments for rumination syndrome may include:

  • Changing one’s posture both during and right after eating.
  • Reducing stress and distractions during meal times.
  • Removing distractions during meal times.
  • Psychotherapy

Where to learn more


Rumination syndrome is a rare and chronic disorder. Individuals with the condition will regurgitate food after eating.

The main symptom of rumination syndrome is the repeated regurgitation of undigested food.

Rumination syndrome may lead to electrolyte imbalance, malnutrition, and weight loss.

Treatment for the disorder aims to change the learned behavior that triggers regurgitation. There is currently no medication that can treat rumination syndrome.

Sources include: 1 2


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