MSD Manual

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Rumination Disorder

By

Evelyn Attia

, MD, Columbia University Medical Center;


B. Timothy Walsh

, MD, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University

Medically Reviewed Jul 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
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  • 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

Doctors may observe the person regurgitating food, or the person may report it.

Treatment of Rumination Disorder

  • Behavioral modification

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.

More Information

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.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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