Emetophobia

Emetophobia is a fear of vomiting. It often involves anxiety and panic around words, situations, or physical sensations that relate to vomiting. Because the experience of throwing up is difficult or impossible to control, a person will exert control in alternative ways in order to reduce the perceived or real risk of throwing up. In other words, avoidance is a key feature of emetophobia. The uncertainty of “will it or won’t it happen” drives avoidance, elaborate planning to reduce the risk, and significant distress.

Triggering Situations:

  • feeling twinges or minor physical sensations in your stomach that feel like early signs of nausea

  • upset stomach or abdominal pain

  • seeing or hearing words like “vomit”, “throw up”, “puke”, “barf” and the like

  • watching vomit scenes on television

  • hearing a friend or family member mention physical symptoms of illness

  • long car rides

Common Avoidances:

  • saying, hearing or reading words associated with vomit

  • eating at restaurants where it can be difficult to know exact ingredients

  • eating spicy or greasy foods that may upset your stomach

  • engaging in life experiences that thrust the body in unusual ways, like roller coasters, go-karts or mountain driving

  • being around people who complain of symptoms that indicate real or perceived sickness

  • refusing physical contact with people including shaking hands, hugging or sitting next to a friend in the movie theater

  • refusing experiences that may make you queasy

  • taking medication that have a side effect of nausea or vomiting