How to Safely Induce Vomiting

You should never induce vomiting unless strictly necessary. However, if you find yourself in a situation in which you need to vomit and would like to know how to do it safely, learn how here.
How to Safely Induce Vomiting
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 01 December, 2023

Vomiting or emesis is a reflex phenomenon whereby the body abruptly and violently expels gastric contents through the mouth. Sometimes, it may be necessary to induce vomiting to relieve discomfort or to eliminate a harmful substance. In this article, we’re going to tell you how to vomit easily and safely.

Induction of vomiting should only be performed in emergency situations only and should never be a regular practice. Such emergencies may be the case of the ingestion of toxic food or the manifestation of intense, irregular abdominal discomfort. Likewise, it’s necessary to go as soon as possible to a medical center for a professional assessment.

On the other hand, it’s not advisable to follow the steps to vomit safely in case of ingestion of acidic, irritating, or poisonous liquids. This situation could worsen the situation, since the substance will go back through the throat and mouth.

If you have any concerns, you should consult a doctor or visit an emergency room.

7 steps to vomit easily and safely

Making yourself vomit can be unpleasant and overwhelming. However, it’s possible to vomit safely by stimulating the gag reflex.

Studies state that this is a protective reaction that is triggered when an irritating or external stimulus touches the base of the tongue.

1. Find a private place and wash your hands

When faced with the need to vomit, the first thing to do is to find a private space, free of noise and bystanders. Most people choose to go to the bathroom or choose wooded areas if they are outdoors. However, it’s advisable to warn someone to keep an eye out.

Then, you should wash your hands to prevent contamination of the throat by harmful microorganisms. To do this, just rub your fingers and palms with plenty of water and antiseptic soap.

Vomitar en el baño de forma segura y fácil.
Most people choose the bathroom as a place to vomit peacefully.

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2. Set up a place to vomit into

Vomiting in front of the toilet is usually the safest and easiest way. In this regard, you should bend down in front of the toilet, avoiding putting pressure on your abdomen. If you’re outdoors, a disposable bag or container may work.

It’s advisable to remove any accessories from your hands that could become soiled. Also, people with long hair should tie it back with a rubber band to avoid getting it dirty. If you are with a friend or family member, you can ask them to hold your hair.

3. Induce vomiting

Nausea and retching are warning signs that indicate the arrival of vomiting. If you notice these symptoms, you should not try to hold them in. You can also help your body by placing a finger or a paddle inside your mouth and pressing lightly on the back of your tongue.

Another area that can be stimulated to vomit safely is the uvula. This is nothing more than the little bell that hangs from the soft palate in the mouth.

Usually, the person will feel gagging and sudden contractions in the stomach and throat. After stimulating 2 to 3 times the expulsion of gastric contents will occur.

4. Drink plenty of water

It’s advisable to drink liquid after vomiting to remove the gastric juices that may be adhered to the mouth and throat. You can drink 1 glass of water little by little or suck on an ice cube. Similarly, this action allows you to replace some of the fluid lost through vomiting, preventing complications of dehydration.

5. Take a seat or lay down and relax

In most cases, people feel muscle weakness, tiredness, and fatigue after vomiting. So, it’s crucial to give the body a couple of minutes to recover.

In this sense, you can rest sitting for 20 to 30 minutes or lying down with a pillow on your back until you feel a slight improvement. It’s not advisable to lie on your stomach or side in the first hour.

6. Brush your teeth after 30 minutes

The teeth and gums are usually sensitive after being in contact with the acid of the gastric content. In this sense, it’s a good idea to wait 20 to 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. To eliminate the unpleasant taste in the mouth, you can gargle with small mouthfuls of water.

7. Avoid meals for a couple of hours

Like the rest of your body, the stomach requires time to recover after vomiting. That’s why a vital step to vomiting safely is to avoid eating for 1 to 2 hours after gastric expulsion. When resuming eating, try not to eat large meals or dishes rich in fat or sugar.

Possible complications of inducing vomiting

The risks of inducing vomiting are associated with the passage of gastric juices into the airway, fluid loss, and damage to the walls of the digestive tract. Aspiration of vomitus can lead to asphyxia when it occurs in sufficient quantity, as well as infection of the respiratory tree.

Studies state that aspiration pneumonia results from the passage of gastric contents into the lungs, accompanied by irritation, inflammation, and risk of bacterial growth. On the other hand, continuous induction of vomiting often leads to dehydration and loss of essential electrolytes. This complication is more frequent in children and the elderly.

In addition, in case of persistent vomiting, gastric contents can cause lesions and burns in the esophagus, throat, and mouth. A common finding in this complication is vomiting blood or hematemesis.

Vómitos en el auto.
Vomiting in the street or outdoors is more complicated.

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The most common causes of vomiting

Involuntary vomiting is a common symptom in many conditions of the digestive tract. In addition, it can also be the result of systemic conditions. Some common causes are the following:

  • Hepatitis
  • Pregnancy
  • Appendicitis
  • A peptic ulcer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Food poisoning
  • Motion sickness
  • Hydrocephalus and meningitis
  • Medications such as NSAIDs and opioid analgesics

In these cases, the characteristics and color of the vomit usually facilitate the medical diagnosis. Treatment of the underlying cause usually relieves the symptom. In some cases, administration of antiemetic drugs such as metoclopramide or domperidone is necessary.

You should never induce vomiting unless absolutely necessary

Vomiting can be easily and safely induced by following the above steps. However, inducing vomiting should never become a routine habit to relieve overeating. In case you feel the need to vomit for this reason, it’s important to consult a psychologist.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.