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How to Induce Vomiting in Emergencies

written by: DaniellaNicole • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 1/31/2010

Learn how to induce vomiting in case of emergencies that require such action. Knowing basic first aid skills can come in handy when you least expect it.

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    What You Need to Know Before Inducing Vomiting

    There are times when inducing vomiting is required as a means of eliminating poisons or toxins from the body. However, there are also times when the induction of vomiting will cause more harm. In those instances, other methods are available for dealing with the poison or toxin. Never induce vomiting unless it is medically advised for the particular situation.

    In case of emergency, contact your poison control center or emergency response center (9-1-1 in the United States) for guidance. In the United States, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has listings for poison control centers in every state.

    When you have been advised to do it, the following are instructions for how to induce vomiting. Vomiting should never be induced in an unconscious person as they could choke.

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    What to Use

    There are various means of inducing vomiting. Here are a few commonly used in emergency situations:

    • Syrup of Ipecac. Administer according to container directions and only if medically advised to do so.
    • Salt water in a mixture of two tablespoons salt to one glass of water. Use only if advised.
    • Throat tickle. If the back of the patient’s throat can be tickled, it could trigger vomiting.
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    How to Do it

    When vomiting has been induced, one of these positions can be used to help the patient be as comfortable as possible while vomiting. These positions will help reduce the chances of vomit entering the air passages and choking the patient.

    Position One: Have the conscious patient lie on his back on a hard, flat surface. He must turn his head to one side. It is important that his head not be supported with a pillow. This position helps prevent vomited matter from entering the air passages.

    Position Two: Another position that works is for the patient to lie on her side. She will extend one leg outward and bend the other at the thigh and knee. This position works well for excessive vomiting.

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    Other Notes:

    Be sure to keep a sample of the poison or the container of the poison for emergency personnel to use in assisting the patient.

    According to the National Poison Data System, which maintains detailed poison information in their database for medical directors and others, in 1995 more than two million poison exposure reports came into poison control centers in the U.S. Make sure your first aid kit contains syrup of ipecac as well as activated charcoal for emergencies involving poisoning. Keep your regional poison control number programmed into your cell phone and posted by first aid supplies. Learn how to induce vomiting as well as the general rules related to poisoning treatment.

    When vomiting is not advised, some patients will need to be treated with water or milk to help dilute the poison. Do not administer fluids to a poisoned person unless medically advised to do so.

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    References:

    First Aid for Poisoning. http://www.homoeopathyclinic.com/injuries/poisoning.htm

    Poisoning. http://www.webhealthcentre.com/HealthyLiving/first_aid_poiso.aspx

    American Association of Poison Control Centers. http://www.aapcc.org/DNN/