Treatment and prognosis

There is presently no known cure for rumination. Proton pump inhibitors and other medications have been used to little or no effect. Treatment is different for infants and the mentally handicapped than for adults and adolescents of normal intelligence. Among the former two, behavioral and mild aversive training has shown to cause improvement in most cases. Aversive training involves associating the ruminating behavior with negative results, and rewarding good behavior and eating. Placing a sour or bitter taste on the tongue when the individual begins the movements or breathing patterns typical of his or her ruminating behavior is the generally accepted method for aversive training, although some older studies advocate the use of pinching. In patients of normal intelligence, rumination is not an intentional behavior and is habitually reversed using diaphragmatic breathing to counter the urge to regurgitate. Alongside reassurance, explanation and habit reversal, patients are shown how to breathe using their diaphragms prior to and during the normal rumination period. A similar breathing pattern can be used to prevent normal vomiting. Breathing in this method works by physically preventing the abdominal contractions required to expel stomach contents.

Supportive therapy and diaphragmatic breathing has shown to cause improvement in 56% of cases, and total cessation of symptoms in an additional 30% in one study of 54 adolescent patients who were followed up 10 months after initial treatments. Patients who successfully use the technique often notice an immediate change in health for the better Individuals who have had bulimia or who intentionally induced vomiting in the past have a reduced chance for improvement due to the reinforced behavior. The technique is not used with infants or young children due to the complex timing and concentration required for it to be successful. Most infants grow out of the disorder within a year or with aversive training.