States who have legalized marijuana have seen a spike in a mysterious illness tied to heavy marijuana use. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS, causes symptoms such as extreme abdominal pain and excessive vomiting.
Although the syndrome was first mentioned over ten years ago, it has been a little known illness until now. Colorado, a state where marijuana is legal, has seen a 50 percent increase in emergency room diagnosis of the illness since the drug was legalized, according to ABC Denver.
Doctors initially had a hard time recognizing the syndrome, but this has since changed. Dr. Kennon Heard, a physician on staff at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora said that he and his colleagues have been encountering cases of the syndrome at the hospital on a weekly, even daily basis since recreational use of cannabis became legal, the Huffington Post reported.
Dr. Heard went on to say the causes for the syndrome are still unclear. However, he stated the most likely reason is that heavy, consistent use of marijuana changes the receptors in the bodies of users. Eventually, these receptors somehow become dysregulated, which starts causing the pain described.
Linked to heavy, long-term usage of marijuana, symptoms of cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome include extreme nausea and vomiting which, for reasons unknown to researchers, can be alleviated by showers or hot baths. This can help doctors diagnose the syndrome when they encounter such symptoms in patients.
Dr. Jon LaPook recently presented facts about symptoms such as cyclical vomiting, abdominal pain and the relief offered by showers and baths as well as other information on this still little understood syndrome, according to Forbes.
In states where marijuana remains illegal, doctors and hospitals may still have difficulty recognizing this still mysterious and lesser known syndrome. When asked, patients may also be reluctant to admit illegal cannibis use to healthcare providers, therefore making an accurate diagnosis all the more difficult.
Pot smoker Lance Crowder of Indiana, where marijuana is still illegal, even in medical cases, described his experience with the syndrome, according to ABC Denver. Crowder said he felt like he was dying and his kidneys were beginning to shut down. Doctors took over two years to diagnose the syndrome which had him repeatedly in and out of the hospital. The one clue doctors noticed was what Crowder did to warm his body and lessen nausea and other symptoms, which was to take a hot shower.
By Rebeccah Dean