Emergency Doctors See Spike In Marijuana-Related Illness

A newly recognized illness is cropping up in emergency rooms. Sufferers of the syndrome have symptoms like constant vomiting and abdominal pain and doctors say-- they're seeing it more often. NewsWatch 12's Eliana Sheriff investigates tonight and you'll never guess why doctors think this is happening.

Posted: Jan 18, 2018 9:57 PM
Updated: Jan 19, 2018 12:03 AM

MEDFORD, Ore.-- The emergency medical director at Providence tells NewsWatch 12 that a new illness is cropping up in their hospital.

For the past couple months they've been seeing patients on a daily basis with the same symptom of uncontrollable vomiting and they believe it's tied to marijuana use.

Dr. Cory Bergey, D.O. says, "There's a new condition we're seeing that's associated with increased legalization of marijuana and increased usage in our community. We tend to see it in a younger population, usually in the twenties."

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome.
Or CHS.

Dr. Cory Bergey, D.O. says, "Anywhere between 1 to 5% of our patient population is coming in with this."

While this illness isn't known to much of the public- doctors can recognize it immediately, especially since most patients with the same symptom find the same relief.

Many patients say they get that relief from long, hot showers or baths.

Dr. Cory Bergey, D.O. says, "I have found that out on my own practice, there's a huge correlation, if someone tells that to me it is almost always because of the marijuana usage."

Dr. Bergey says CHS can affect new marijuana users and chronic users.
She says it tends to affect more women than men.

As to why it happens? That's still being researched.

Dr. Cory Bergey, D.O. says, "There's a correlation with marijuana usage and this syndrome, and part of it may be that marijuana today is very different from marijuana years ago, it's a lot more potent."

The doctor’s advice? Lay off the marijuana.

However, that's not what most patients want to hear.

Dr. Cory Bergey, D.O. says, "Most patients to tell you the truth, do not believe you. They do not believe marijuana is the issue"

There's also a phase where the condition worsens before it gets better-- even after stopping.
Which is another reason why people have a tough time healing from CHS.
Many times, doctors say sufferers of the syndrome will have recurring hospital visits.

Dr. Cory Bergey, D.O. says, "Well marijuana is medicinal and its used for nausea and vomiting, especially for folks like cancer patients so trying to break through that thought process is a barrier for us in the emergency department."

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