How to Make Yourself Throw Up (And When You Should Avoid It)

How to Make Yourself Throw Up

No one likes to vomit; however, there are some occasions when you need to make yourself throw up. Sometimes making yourself vomit by triggering your gag reflex can help to relieve feelings of nausea. On other occasions, a doctor may recommend that you induce vomiting if you’ve ingested too many pills.

Generally, there are only a few occasions at home where you need to make yourself throw up. In fact, inducing vomiting when it’s not necessary may do more harm than good. For example, ingested poisons could damage your esophagus if you bring them back up. Also, you should never force yourself to vomit to lose weight as this can lead to serious health consequences.

There are also some ways to make yourself throw up your stomach contents that aren’t safe and are not recommended by doctors. Unfortunately, the internet is full of recommendations on inducing vomiting that are no longer viewed as safe or should only be done under medical supervision.

In this article, you will find out the best and safest ways to make yourself throw up. We will also look at situations when you should never force vomiting.

Situations When You Need to Make Yourself Throw Up

We usually try to avoid vomiting because it is an uncomfortable and, sometimes, distressing experience. In fact, on this website, you will find a lot of advice on how to prevent vomiting and nausea. So, what are the situations when you need to make yourself throw up?

When a doctor recommends you induce vomiting

In some cases of poisoning, doctors will recommend that you induce vomiting. However, according to the New Zealand Poison Center, vomiting isn’t the correct first aid advice for poisoning.1

The first step to take in cases of suspected poisoning is to call the emergency poison hotline in your country. You will need to describe in detail the substance that you or the other person has ingested and what your symptoms are.

Dr. Jacob Heller on MedlinePlus says that you should not make the person throw up unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional.2

To relieve feelings of nausea

Sometimes, making yourself puke can help relieve feelings of nausea and sickness. This is especially true if you’ve got food poisoning from food contaminated by germs or you have “stomach flu.” Of course, some of the symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting, nausea after eating, and diarrhea. So, you may not have to try too hard to puke.

However, even in these cases, it is better to try and relieve the nauseous feelings naturally so you don’t have to make yourself vomit.

When You Should Not Induce Vomiting

There are many situations when you should not induce vomiting because it could cause more health problems than it solves. Here is a list of the situations when making yourself throw up isn’t advised.

To lose weight

You should never practice self-induced vomiting to lose weight. Frequent vomiting removes essential salts, electrolytes, and nutrients from your body that can cause serious health consequences. In fact, it can lead to a destructive physiological cycle that can be difficult to stop.

Dr. Kathleen Romito on WebMD says that vomiting releases endorphins which can give a “feel good” feeling. However, this can become a habit and a person may start vomiting even though he or she hasn’t eaten anything.3

In an article entitled “7 things you should never do to lose weight,” Dr. Kathleen M. Zelman says that making yourself vomit to lose weight can cause eating disorders. The stomach acid can also damage your mouth and tooth enamel and increase your risk of certain cancers. You may also experience the consequences of dehydration.4

If you want to lose weight, you should try other effective and natural ways that can help you shed pounds safely and effectively without harming your body. For example:

Ingesting a poisonous substance

As I’ve already mentioned, doctors generally don’t advise inducing vomiting to try and get poisonous substances out of the body. Poisonous substances that come back up the digestive tract can cause injury to the throat, mouth, and lungs. It can also increase the amount of poison the body absorbs.

The New Zealand Poison Center say that some of the dangers of inducing vomiting after ingesting toxic substance are the following:1

  • Some products froth up and can damage your lungs if you bring them back up.
  • Trying to vomit corrosive substances can severely damage your esophagus, throat, and even cause burns to your mouth.
  • Stomach contractions can cause more of the poison to be absorbed, thus aggravating the problem.

Also, you should not try to make a person vomit by giving them salt water, mustard, or syrup of ipecac to drink.1

Even in cases where a child has consumed something poisonous, you should not make them puke. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends calling your local poison control center for advice if a child has taken a poisonous substance.5

The only time when you should make yourself throw up after ingesting a poisonous substance is if a medical professional directs you to do so.

After drinking too much alcohol

Vomiting is one of the effects of drinking too much alcohol. However, you should never make yourself throw up after heavy drinking. Ingesting too much alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning and you should treat this as with any case of poisoning.

In fact, doctors from the St John’s Ambulance in the United Kingdom say that if a person shows signs of drinking too much alcohol you should not make them throw up. Instead, you should call the emergency services for medical advice.6

You also need to be aware that excessive drinking of alcohol is one of the common habits that damage your liver. I’ve already mentioned that excessive alcohol consumption is also one of the causes of liver cancer – frequent alcohol abuse can degrade the liver over time and kill off cells. When the liver attempts to repair this damage, it could lead to DNA mutations that kick start cancers.

To relieve morning sickness when pregnant

If you are pregnant and suffer from morning sickness, it may be tempting to relieve nausea by making yourself vomit. Of course, throwing up or dry heaving when you are pregnant can happen frequently and it can be difficult to get relief from morning sickness.

In their advice on dealing with morning sickness and nausea, doctors from WebMD don’t recommend making yourself puke to deal with morning sickness. Instead, they recommend eating smaller frequent meals throughout the day. Also, taking a few dry crackers may help to alleviate feelings of nausea. Many pregnant women have found relief by eating bland foods along with high-protein snacks.7

Taking natural remedies to prevent nausea rather than self-induced vomiting will help to make sure that you and your baby continue to get enough vitamins and minerals. You can also try to drink ginger tea to help calm feelings of wanting to throw up.

How to Make Yourself Throw Up Safely

If you feel a legitimate need to make yourself throw up, it’s important to do so in the safest possible way. Here is one of the best and safest ways to vomit your stomach contents back out.

Trigger gag reflex to induce vomiting

The safest way to voluntarily make yourself vomit is to trigger your gag reflex by putting your fingers to the back of your throat. This can help to quickly remove spoiled food from your stomach or if you have ingested non-corrosive poisons like pills or other drugs.

  1. Wash your hands and make sure that you don’t have long nails that could scratch your throat.
  2. Kneel or sit in front of the toilet or bucket without putting too much pressure on your abdomen.
  3. Insert your index finger into the back of your throat to trigger the gag reflex in order to make yourself throw up.
  4. As soon as you feel you are about to vomit, take your finger out of your mouth and puke into the toilet or bucket.
  5. Wash your hands.
  6. If you don’t vomit, try one more time. However, if you can’t make yourself throw up, you should call a doctor for advice.

At the end of the article, you can read about unsafe and ineffective methods of causing yourself to vomit.

Please note that some people use hard objects like spoons or toothbrushes to induce vomiting, but using these objects is not recommended because they can damage the throat.

What to Do After Throwing Up

It’s important to remember that stomach acid is very strong and it can damage the enamel on your teeth. The Australian Dental Journal reports that in cases of frequent vomiting, stomach acids in the mouth can cause so much enamel wear that teeth need to be repaired.8

Doctors from the Center for Clinical Interventions recommend the following after you have thrown up:9

If you have had to cause yourself to vomit because of ingesting something poisonous, you should continue to follow the advice from the poison center.

If your feelings of nausea continue for more than a few days or you develop chronic vomiting, you should see your doctor for professional medical advice.

Potentially Dangerous Methods to Avoid if You Need to Induce Vomiting

When it comes to self-provoked vomiting, many people still follow advice that is either outdated or has potential negative health consequences. Some methods of inducing vomiting may actually do nothing to rid your body of what you are trying to bring up.

Taking emetics

An emetic is any substance that induces vomiting and is sometimes used by medical professionals. However, you should not take these at home unless directed to do so by a healthcare worker or doctor.

Dr. Roy Benaroch on WebMD says that emetics like syrup of ipecac will cause vomiting but its effectiveness in cases of poisoning is limited. Dr. Benaroch says that it will take around 30 minutes before vomiting starts. This increases the risk that more poison gets absorbed by the body and then it may damage the digestive tract when vomiting occurs. It may also hinder administering any necessary treatment for poison control.10

Salt water to self-induce vomiting

Another emetic that some people use to make themselves vomit is drinking large amounts of salt water. Although drinking a lot of salt water will make you puke, it’s not without its risks.

According to the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, too much salt in the body can itself be poisonous and can have fatal consequences. The researchers said that even just using a small amount of salt as an emetic can cause a severe electrolyte disturbance that can even result in death.11


Overeating is another unsafe method of making yourself vomit. According to the Cleveland Clinic, vomiting is sometimes a result of overeating. However, nowhere in any medical literature is this mentioned as a way to induce vomiting. You may just end up with even more discomfort in your stomach and suffer indigestion, abdominal cramping, and a full stomach.

Other unproven methods to make yourself throw up

Some other unproven methods of forcing vomiting are still promoted on websites today. However, the National Capital Poison Center says that consuming raw egg white, taking mustard, and drinking milk of magnesia are ineffective and unreliable remedies to make yourself vomit.12

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Article Sources

  1. Poisons. Vomiting – First aid for poisoning?
  2. MedlinePlus. Poisoning first aid.
  3. WebMD. Bulimia nervosa.
  4. WebMD. 7 things never do to lose weight.
  5. Pediatrics. Poison treatment in the home.
  6. PatientInfo. Dealing with poisoning.
  7. WebMD. Battle with morning sickness.
  8. Aust Dent J. 2002 Jun;47(2):106-15.
  9. CCI-Health. Vomiting and dental care.
  10. WebMD. Should I give ipecac to induce vomiting?
  11. Mayo Clin Proc. 1990 Dec;65(12):1587-94.
  12. Poison. Ipecac.

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