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What Is Mallory-Weiss Syndrome?

A tear in the digestive system usually requires surgery.
Severe vomiting may lead to Mallory-Weiss syndrome.
Article Details
  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 22 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Mallory-Weiss syndrome is a disorder in which a person has a tear at the junction of his esophagus and stomach. This is usually caused by severe vomiting associated with alcoholism or bulimia, but can actually occur any time there is a heavy amount of retching. It is usually noticed when a person starts to cough or vomit blood. It can normally be diagnosed by running a medical scope down a patient's throat in order to take a picture of their digestive system.

A tear in the area where a person's esophagus is joined with their stomach is often caused by episodes of heavy vomiting. This can be over a period of time in many cases. For this reason, people who have a history of alcohol abuse or bulimia, an eating disorder in which people force themselves to throw up, can often make an individual prone to Mallory-Weiss syndrome.

Although eating disorders or heavy alcohol use can sometimes cause this condition, it can also occur any time a person retches repeatedly. It is most common among people who are over 50 years of age, but can also affect children from time to time. Males and females seem to be equally plagued by this condition.

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One of the first warning signs of Mallory-Weiss syndrome is usually when an individual vomits blood or a mucous secretion containing bloody streaks. In many cases, this is accompanied by strong abdominal pains. These symptoms may subside after a day or two, only to return a few days or weeks later.

People who exhibit symptoms of Mallory-Weiss syndrome can often be diagnosed by a physician after performing certain tests. This could be by running a scope or camera down the esophagus to the stomach area and checking for a tear. It might also be done by ruling out other conditions, such as ulcers or gall stones.

Surgery is usually recommended for people found to have a tear in the digestive system. This is normally done as an in-patient procedure, which means the individual must remain in the hospital for a period of time afterward. Closing any tears that are present normally causes the patient to stop vomiting excessively.

Although the thought of having Mallory-Weiss syndrome can be frightening, the fact is that this condition is rarely ever fatal. Even so, it can be painful for those who are afflicted. Diagnosing and treating this disorder early can play an important factor in how easy it might be to recover from it.

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