Some people with rumination disorder are aware that the behavior is socially unacceptable and try to disguise or hide it.
If people limit how much they eat (to prevent others from seeing them regurgitate), they may lose weight or develop nutritional deficiencies.
Doctors diagnose rumination disorder in people who report repeatedly regurgitating food for a month or longer.
Behavioral modification techniques may help.
People with this disorder repeatedly regurgitate food after eating, typically every day. They have no nausea and do not retch involuntarily. People may rechew the regurgitated food and then spit it out or swallow it again.
Rumination disorder may occur in infants, children, adolescents, or adults.
Unlike vomiting, which is forceful and typically caused by a disorder, regurgitation is not forceful and may be voluntary. However, people may report that they cannot stop themselves from doing it.
Some people are aware that the behavior is socially unacceptable and try to disguise it by putting their hand over their mouth or coughing. Some avoid eating with other people and do not eat before a social activity or work so that they do not regurgitate in public.
Some people limit how much they eat. People who spit out the regurgitated material or who greatly limit how much they eat may lose weight or develop nutritional deficiencies.
Diagnosis of Rumination Disorder
A doctor's evaluation
Doctors usually diagnose rumination disorder when
People repeatedly regurgitate food over a period of ≥ 1 month.
Gastrointestinal disorders that can cause regurgitation (such as gastroesophageal reflux Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) In gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach contents, including acid and bile, flow backward from the stomach into the esophagus, causing inflammation in the esophagus and pain in the bottom... read more [GERD] and Zenker diverticulum Zenker diverticula (pharyngeal diverticula) Esophageal diverticula are abnormal pouches or pockets in the esophagus. Rarely, they cause swallowing difficulties and regurgitation (the spitting up of food without nausea or forceful contractions... read more ) and other eating disorders (such as anorexia nervosa) Anorexia Nervosa Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a relentless pursuit of thinness, a distorted body image, an extreme fear of obesity, and restriction of food consumption, leading to... read more have been ruled out.
Doctors may observe the person regurgitating food, or the person may report it.
If rumination disorder is suspected or diagnosed, doctors evaluate nutritional status Evaluation of Nutritional Status Nutrition is the process of consuming, absorbing, and using nutrients needed by the body for growth, development, and maintenance of life. To receive adequate, appropriate nutrition, people... read more to check for weight loss and nutritional deficiencies.
Treatment of Rumination Disorder
Behavioral modification techniques Behavioral therapy Extraordinary advances have been made in the treatment of mental illness. As a result, many mental health disorders can now be treated nearly as successfully as physical disorders. Most treatment... read more , including treatments that use cognitive-behavioral strategies, may be helpful. Behavioral modification techniques help people unlearn undesirable behaviors while learning desirable behaviors.
The following are some English-language resources that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA): Large nonprofit organization that provides access to online screening tools, a helpline, forums, and a variety of support groups (some virtual)
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD): Access to curricula and training for medical and health care professionals, as well as to peer-to-peer support groups, self-help, and other services to people with eating disorders and their families