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[Gr. emein, to vomit]
An agent that promotes vomiting. An emetic may induce vomiting by irritating the gastrointestinal tract or by stimulating the chemoreceptor trigger zone of the central nervous system. Some drugs, such as narcotic pain relievers and chemotherapeutic agents used to treat cancer, have emetic properties as unwanted side effects of their administration.
SEE: vomiting; SEE: vomitus
TREATMENT OF DRUG OVERDOSES
Drugs that promote vomiting (such as syrup of ipecac and apomorphine hydrochloride) are given occasionally to treat toxic ingestions. Gastric lavage or the oral administration of activated charcoal usually is preferred for the management of patients who have overdosed on medications, because these methods are generally safer, better tolerated, and more effective than are emetics. Emetics are particularly hazardous in patients with altered mental status or patients who have ingested petroleum distillates, because of the risk of aspiration, and in patients who have ingested corrosive agents, because the emetic drug may worsen the injury to the esophagus and oropharynx. Emetics are also contraindicated in patients with known cardiac or epileptic disorders because they occasionally trigger seizures or arrhythmias.
SYN: SEE: emetogenic