How to induce vomiting?

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Published: March 18, 2015
Last reviewed: June 16, 2017

Reasons to Induce Vomiting

There is some controversial information on major medical websites about when is appropriate to induce vomiting.

When you think you have ingested something poisonous, DO NOT induce vomiting unless a doctor or personnel from a Poison Control Center on the phone tell you to do so.

Before inducing vomiting, please check the text below the gray box to know when you should not try to vomit because it can be dangerous.

How to make yourself throw up?

In the case of poisoning, call emergency (911 in the US, 112 in Europe) or Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222 in the US) and follow the instructions. Inducing vomiting is optimal when done immediately after ingesting a harmful substance and may make sense within an hour of ingestion.

1. Sit or Kneel

Sit in front of a bowl or kneel in front of the toilet bowl in a firm position to avoid falling.

2. Use Fingers

Stick your tongue out, put your index and middle finger on the back of the tongue, pull the tongue and fingers back until the fingers touch the little tongue that hangs down from the back of your palate (lingula) or the back throat wall. You may need to stick your fingers in the throat for several seconds and use your will power to induce vomit. As soon as you feel stomach cramps, remove the fingers from the mouth and allow the stomach content to come out.

If you have no gag reflex, sticking fingers down the throat will not make you puke.

NOTE: DO NOT use any hard objects–sticks, spoons or toothbrushes–to induce vomiting, because they can damage your mouth and teeth.

3. Rinse

After vomiting, rinse your mouth with water and drink a small amount of it to remove bad taste. Avoid brushing your teeth right after vomiting, because you can damage the teeth enamel that is covered by stomach acid that comes up with the food.

When NOT to Induce Vomiting

1. NEVER induce vomiting in a person with impaired consciousness, seizures or in a severely drunk person because of the danger of choking or aspiration. An affected person should not lie on the back but on the side to avoid aspiration after spontaneous vomiting.

2. DO NOT induce vomiting after ingesting:

  • Corrosive liquids (acids, alkalies, bleach)
  • Petroleum products (gasoline, kerosene, coal oil, lighter fluid, paint thinner or other solvents, liquid pesticide concentrates), benzene, toluene or other highly volatile liquids or products that can froth (shampoo, dishwashing soap and other cleaning fluids)
  • Strychnine (14)
  • Iron tablets (3)
  • Any chemical, unless a doctor tells you to do so
  • Hard or sharp objects, such as toys, buttons, coins, rings, batteries, etc.
  • Other references: (1,2)

In above cases, inducing vomiting can do more harm than good.

3. Some health professionals advise against inducing vomiting after excessive alcohol drinking, food poisoning and drug overdose (4).

4. DO NOT try to induce vomiting if you–from experience–are expecting to have severe and painful stomach cramps to avoid tearing your esophagus.

5. DO NOT induce vomiting during pregnancy, for example, to relieve morning sickness.

6. There can also be more harm than benefit from inducing vomiting in conditions with upset stomach or nausea, such as stomach flu and other childhood diseases, acid reflux with heartburn, gastroenteritis, hepatitis or kidney disease.

7. Inducing vomiting is NOT an appropriate method for weight loss.

8. Some doctors may recommend inducing vomiting after ingesting poisonous mushrooms or other plants, methanol, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), diluted liquid pesticides, mercury or, sometimes, after a drug overdose (analgesics, antibiotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, opiates) or allergic reaction to food.

DO NOT use OTC emetics and home remedies to induce vomiting.

OTC emetics are over-the-counter (non-prescription) substances that induce vomiting. Do not take anything by mouth to induce vomiting.

Ipecac Syrup

Ipecac syrup was once widely recommended for inducing vomiting, but American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Poison Control Centers and some other poison centers now advise against using it because of its unproven efficacy in removing toxic substances from the body and several possible side effects, such as lethargy, especially in children (2,3,12,13).

Salt Water

Drinking salt water may speed the movement of toxic substances from the stomach into the small intestine and thus stimulate its absorption, so it is usually not recommended for inducing vomiting (2). Large amounts of salt water can cause hypernatremia, seizures or even death, especially in children (8,13).

Other Substances to Avoid

  • Activated charcoal is not reliable and safe substance for inducing vomiting at home; if aspirated, it may cause lung damage (11,13,15).
  • Atropine, biperiden, diphenhydramine, doxylamine, scopolamine and other cholinergic antagonists in usual doses are not effective in inducing vomiting and, in larger doses, can have severe side effects, such as confusion, loss of coordination, inability to sweat (16).
  • Copper sulfate is toxic (6).
  • Bloodroot may be toxic (7).
  • Lobelia tincture is potentially toxic (17).
  • Hydrogen peroxide is intended to induce vomiting in animals, not humans.
  • Marijuana is illegal in most countries, and it can cause severe and prolonged vomiting that may require hospitalization (10).

Home Remedies

There is a lack of reliable information about the effectiveness and safety of drinking mustard in water, vinegar, milk of magnesia, detergents, tannic acid, a solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or eating burnt toast, raw eggs or butter as emetics (13).

Eating a large amount of food may speed the movement of poisons from the stomach into the intestine rather than make you throw up.

Side Effects and Dangers of Self-Induced Vomiting

Aspiration

During throwing up, some of the vomit may find its way into the breathing pathways and cause choking or, if it reaches the lungs, aspiration pneumonia.

Burning

Corroding substances in the vomit–acids or alkali–can cause chemical burns in the esophagus, throat and mouth (2).

Esophageal Tear

Violent vomiting can cause partial thickness tear (Mallory-Weiss syndrome) or full thickness tear of the esophagus (Boerhaave syndrome), which are especially common in chronic alcoholics and after overeating in individuals with eating disorders (bulimia). Symptoms include severe lower chest or upper abdominal pain and vomiting blood (9).

Vomiting can relieve symptoms of a hangover.

12 Responses to How to induce vomiting?

  1. Spirulina says:

    I am trying desperately to induce vomiting but it seems, no matter what I do, it is never effective. Does water and flour really work? I need to throw up before any food is absorbed and has the potential to turn into fat… Help?

  2. compguy says:

    Lol! these people are just waaaaaa….even marijuana!!

  3. Lillian says:

    Try water and flour to vomit it made me vomit on time. And I was perfectly fine. I just woke up one day and I started puking. well actually the day after I had eaten the water and flour. And I had eaten a lot

  4. Dog14 says:

    Nothing on this list me throw up

  5. Nate says:

    Ok, first off, how in the world do you induce vomiting NOT putting something in your mouth. Second, marijuana is NOT a vomit inducer. If you throw up from smoking weed then you’re just a light weight.

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