Definition of Rumination syndrome
Rumination syndrome is a condition in which people repeatedly and unintentionally spit up (regurgitate) undigested food from the stomach, rechew it, and then either reswallow the food or spit it out. Rumination is a reflex, not a conscious decision. Rumination syndrome may go undiagnosed because it is often confused with other conditions.
People with rumination syndrome repeatedly regurgitate small amounts of food from the stomach without trying to do so. The food is then partially or completely rechewed and reswallowed or spit out. The food hasn’t been digested, so people with rumination syndrome often report that the food tastes normal, not acidic like vomit.
Rumination syndrome is frequently confused with bulimia nervosa, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and gastroparesis. The condition has long been known to occur in infants and people with developmental disabilities. But it can also occur in other children, adolescents and adults.
The precise cause is unknown. Rumination may be an unconscious, learned behavior that involves the belch reflex. Untreated, rumination syndrome can damage the tube between your mouth and stomach (esophagus) and cause unhealthy weight loss.