Ipecac

How does Ipecac work?

Ipecac contains chemicals that irritate the digestive tract and trigger the brain to cause vomiting.

Are there safety concerns?

Ipecac might be safe for most people when taken by mouth and used for a short time. It can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach irritation, dizziness, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, and a fast heartbeat.

Ipecac is UNSAFE when used long-term, in large amounts, and in children under the age of one. Children are more sensitive than adults to the side effects of ipecac. Misuse of ipecac can lead to serious poisoning, heart damage, and death. Signs of poisoning include difficulty breathing, digestive tract problems, abnormal heart rates, blood in the urine, convulsions, shock, coma, and death.

Ipecac seems to be safe for children when used appropriately as a prescription product to induce vomiting (emesis). However, the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation to keep a 1-ounce bottle of syrup of ipecac at home has recently been reversed. The new statement reads, "Syrup of ipecac should no longer be routinely used as a poison treatment intervention in the home." Talk with your healthcare provider or poison control center about how to use ipecac correctly in cases of poisoning in children.

Ipecac should not be used in people who are unconscious or have been poisoned with certain chemicals including corrosives, petroleum products, strychnine, and others. Talk to your healthcare provider or poison control center about whether ipecac is appropriate to use in each case of suspected poisoning. If ipecac is used incorrectly, serious complications can arise including damage of the esophagus, pneumonia, and convulsions.

Ipecac is UNSAFE when inhaled or used on the skin. It can cause breathing problems and irritate the skin.

Do not use ipecac if:
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • You have heart disease.
  • You have digestive tract problems including ulcers, infections, or Crohn's disease.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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