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For more than two years, Lance Crowder was having severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and no local doctor could figure out why. Finally, an emergency room physician in Indianapolis had an idea.
“The first question he asked was if I was taking hot showers to find relief. When he asked me that question, I basically fell into tears because I knew he had an answer,” Crowder said.
The answer was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS. It’s caused by heavy, long-term use of various forms of marijuana. For unclear reasons, the nausea and vomiting are relieved by hot showers or baths.
“They’ll often present to the emergency department three, four, five different times before we can sort this out,” said Dr. Kennon Heard, an emergency room physician in Aurora, Colorado.
CHS can lead to dehydration and kidney failure, but usually resolves within days of stopping drug use. That’s what happened with Crowder, who has been off all forms of marijuana for seven months.
“Now all kinds of ambition has come back. I desire so much more in life and, at 37 years old, it’s a little late to do it, but better now than never,”he said.
CHS develops in heavy, longtime consumers of cannabis; there is generally daily use in excess of three to five times a day for many years before the appearance of symptoms.
CHS is a very rare syndrome and is easily cured by stopping the consumption of cannabis. This should not, by any means, hurt marijuana’s reputation for being the safest recreational drug around, but people need to be aware of the syndrome’s existence. If you know anyone with these symptoms tell him or her go to a doctor and stop smoking.