Pin Me

Insight into the Symptoms of Emetophobia

written by: N Nayab • edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • updated: 1/27/2011

Emetophobia, or a fear of vomit, is a widespread phobia that affects about 6 percent of the US population. Here, we'll discuss the major symptoms and characteristics of emetophobia.

  • slide 1 of 6

    Symptoms of Emetophobia People suffering from emetophobia develop an uncontrollable and irrational aversion and fear of regurgitation, including the fear of nausea and vomiting, and the aversion to watch other people regurgitate. They remain in a constant state of fear, terror, or dread about vomit, and such a state ranks among the most visible symptoms of emetophobia.

    Image Credit: flickr.com/Tiago Ribeiro

  • slide 2 of 6

    Nausea

    Many people suffering from emetophobia experience frequent stomach pain and nausea that stem from the fear of vomiting. The sight or smell of vomit makes emetophobics restless, and unable to think clearly. They usually work themselves up to a frenzy. This is a vicious cycle, as the fear of vomit exacerbates stomach pain and nausea, and nausea further induces a feeling of wanting to vomit. Such a situation leads to symptoms such as trembling, tachycardia or excessively fast heartbeat, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties, dizziness, dry mouth, and excessive sweating. Such symptoms of emetophobia may also escalate to heart attack, pneumonia, or pulmonary embolism.

    However, nausea and worries notwithstanding, most people suffering from this phobia do not actually vomit. The symptoms manifest primarily when emetophobics find themselves in a situation where they see vomit first hand, or fear that they are about to vomit. People suffering from emetophobia usually have the ability to restrain themselves from vomiting even when experiencing high levels of nausea. The symptoms subside when the fear or the proximity to vomit receeds.

  • slide 3 of 6

    Anxiety

    One of the visible symptoms of emetophobia includes the person developing extreme anxiety and preferring isolation owing to the irrational fear of vomit.

    People with emetophiobia constantly worry about experiencing unpleasant encounters that may cause them to vomit in public, or about coming face to face with someone else's vomit. They remain anxious about almost all situations, such as:

    • possible germ contamination and food poisoning from food not cooked or stored properly in restaurants and other public places
    • possible vomit due to suffocation and nausea in public transport and fear of others seeing them vomit
    • possible vomit in long car trips
    • encountering vomit of sick patients in hospitals and clinics
    • fear of morning sickness arising from pregnancy

    Such fears cause them to avoid situations where they feel would lead them to vomit or see vomit. For instance, they do not frequent restaurants, do not use public transportation, or travel long distance by road, avoid visiting hospitals or clinics, and women refuse to get pregnant. They tend to remain confined to places and rooms they feel comfortable with, and minimize getting out of their comfort zone.

    People with advanced emetophobia develop worries relating to just about any social situation, which in turn causes social anxiety. Such people isolate themselves from society and lead a reclusive life. They may also develop anorexia or self-starvation under the mistaken idea that not taking food would prevent vomit.

  • slide 4 of 6

    Obsessions

    People suffering from emetophobia remain obsessed with cleanliness owing to the fear of germs causing vomit. Emetophobia symptoms and behaviors that manifest with such obsessions include:

    • always sleeping with a towel at arm’s reach
    • checking and re-checking food expiry dates
    • always watching others for signs of sickness
    • constantly stressing on the need to avoid certain foods and alcohol that may induce sickness
    • always finding out the direct path to the nearest toilet on entering a new building

  • slide 5 of 6

    Most Emetophobics remain embarrassed about their condition and do not disclose their symptoms to others. This is a mistake, for delayed treatment that facilitate cure for emetophobia aggravates the symptoms of emetophobia.

  • slide 6 of 6

    References

    1. "Emetephobia." http://healthyhuman.net/emetophobia/index.php. Reterived 12 January 2011
    2. WebMD. "Anxiety and Stress Management" http://blogs.webmd.com/anxiety-and-stress-management/2007/09/fear-and-phobias-6-emetophobia.html. Retrieved 12 January 2011
    3. International Emetophobia Society. http://www.emetophobia.org/. Accessed 12 January 2011
    4. CTRN Emetophobia Clinic. "Frequently Asked Questions About Emetophonia." http://www.emetophobia-clinic.com/emetophobia_f-a-q.html. Retrieved 12 January 2011.