Vomiting is one of the body’s natural defenses against germs, poisons, and drugs. Some people wish to induce vomiting to relieve nausea, whether the cause is an illness or a substance such as alcohol. Others induce vomiting if they believe that they have overeaten — this is a sign of an eating disorder.
However, vomiting carries risks. In particular, it is not safe to induce vomiting to prevent or treat poisoning.
People used to induce vomiting in children who swallowed poison. Parents and caregivers should not gag children or give them syrup of ipecac when they suspect poisoning or believe that the child has eaten rotten food. Instead, they should go to the emergency room or contact a poison control center.