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An emetic is an agent that causes emesis (vomiting, upchucking, regurgitation, "losing one's cookies").

Additional Info

Vomiting is a natural body defense mechanism. Under certain conditions, your body perceives that an illness or injury may have been caused by ingestion of spoiled food or other toxin and empties the stomach contents as a preventative measure.

In the context of this Safety Data Sheet resource one is usually concerned about accidental ingestion of a poison. Obviously, stomach flu and other gastrointestinal illnesses are a much more common cause of vomiting and such conditions are beyond the scope of our discussion. See Additional Reading below for more on care and treatment of illness-related nausea and vomiting.

SDS Relevance

These terms usually appear on a Safety Data Sheet in Section 11 (toxicological information) as a symptom of exposure or in Section 4 (first-aid measures) in discussing appropriate and inappropriate first aid treatment.

Vomiting is a fairly common symptom of chemical exposure, usually in cases of acute (short-term) exposure. If someone is vomiting as a result of a chemical exposure, they should immediately seek professional medical assistance.

Syrup of ipecac was a first aid medicine that was used to induce vomiting when a poison was consumed (i.e. it was used as an antidote). It had long been recommended as an important part of first aid kits where children are present, however emerging evidence suggests that emergency room administration of activated charcoal is probably a better treatment choice for most poisoning cases. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends against the use of ipecac syrup in the home.


Why the warning? Because certain materials can cause additional serious damage and chemical burns to the esophagus and throat on the way back up. Petroleum products, sharp objects, acids, bases (lye, alkali) and other corrosive materials are examples of such materials. Likewise, vomiting may delay other treatments such as the administration of activated charcoal or prove dangerous if a victim has a seizure. Call the American Association of Poison Control Centers poisoning emergency number (800) 222-1222 (or dial 911), summon an ambulance, and/or take the victim to the nearest emergency room before inducing vomiting.

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NEVER attempt to induce vomiting in an unconscious person. The victim could aspirate (choke), leading to even more severe injury or death.

Additional Reading

See also: activated charcoal, antidote, gastric, ingestion, poison.

Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.

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