On ipecac: No! Capice?
November 3, 2003 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Got ipecac? Toss it out. The American Academy of Pediatrics reverses its long-standing position on the vomiting-inducer that has served many parents as a talisman of safety against poisoning.
posted by soyjoy (34 comments total)
A vomit-inducing heyday comes to an end. Suddenly I feel very old.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:17 PM on November 3, 2003

I will never forget the evening that I had eaten a shrimp entrée that used walnut oil -- and I am deathly allergic to nuts. My throat immediately began to close, and some well-intentioned bartender thought it would be a great idea to give me straight bitters to make me throw up. My throat was too tight to put anything down or up, but in my half-conscious state I was fully aware of how horrible the liquid he was trying to force down my throat tasted. *Shudder*
posted by jennak at 1:18 PM on November 3, 2003

This makes me want to puke.
posted by me3dia at 1:28 PM on November 3, 2003

I don't have a poisoning (or near-poisoning) story to share, but we do (as of this typing) have a little bottle of ipecac in our medicine cabinet. As with a lot of parents, I'm guessing, it was more talisman than anything else - we never had to use it, and were deathly afraid of how to make the right judgment call if we did - but we felt like we were doing the right thing by having it on hand.

So now what are we supposed to use for that purpose?
posted by soyjoy at 1:31 PM on November 3, 2003

When I was about 8, I deliberately took a swig of ipecac to get out of going on some family outing that I wasn't too keen on.

It wasn't something I did again.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 1:38 PM on November 3, 2003

So now what are we supposed to use for that purpose?

Mr. Yuck and the number of the poison control center in big numbers next to the phone?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:40 PM on November 3, 2003

Soyjoy spake: So now what are we supposed to use for that purpose?

You're not. Call 911 (or your local emergency number, if your area doesn't have 911) and transport to the nearest emergency room.

Speaking as a paramedic of 16 years experience, with much of that time as a pediatric paramedic specialist: Thank God! I've seen and transported many more cases of aspiration pneumonia from inappropriate ipecac administration than I've ever seen it used appropriately and effectively.
posted by wdpeck at 1:42 PM on November 3, 2003

I don't understand the whole "prevention is key" thing that keeps being repeated throughout the "toss it out" article. Sure, it's best not to ingest poison in the first place, but that's pretty much irrelevant to the issue of what to do if your kid has ingested some. It's like saying "Throw out those condoms, just practice abstinence!"
posted by languagehat at 1:45 PM on November 3, 2003

wdpeck, really? That's interesting. My first reaction was the same as others...and WHAT is the alternative? I feel like doing something asap has got to be better than waiting for 911 and emergency personnel. Good to have your perspective.
posted by aacheson at 1:45 PM on November 3, 2003

Mr. Yuck and the number of the poison control center in big numbers next to the phone?

Mr. Yuk has been found ineffective in a few studies, as well... though having the number by the phone is certainly a must.
posted by vorfeed at 1:48 PM on November 3, 2003

Does this mean I should keep my ricin and VX out of the reach of children and not rely on ipecac?
posted by Captain_Tenille at 1:53 PM on November 3, 2003

I wonder if ipecac goes bad. And if it does, how would you know?
posted by crunchland at 1:53 PM on November 3, 2003

cruchland: If you take it, and it doesn't make you puke, it's time to get more ipecac.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 1:57 PM on November 3, 2003

Mr. Yuk has been found ineffective

It'd help if he wasn't such a goddamn sourpuss about everything.
posted by yerfatma at 2:03 PM on November 3, 2003

When I said "So now what are we supposed to use for that purpose?" I meant not so much what are we supposed to use for actual poisoning situations, as what physical thing should we have, to look to for a (false, I guess) sense of security - or of being prepared, of having done something to be ready. That's what ipecac seemed to be.

I guess the phone numbers could fit the bill - if you invested the writing-out of them with some shamanic intensity... and colorful pens...
posted by soyjoy at 2:21 PM on November 3, 2003

Get one of those snake-bite kits with the twin suction cups. Chances are real good you'll never have to use it (especially if you live, as I do, in an area of the country without native poisonous snakes) but having it in your home says to one and all: "Hey! I am prepared, dang it!"
posted by yhbc at 2:26 PM on November 3, 2003

According to NPR, hospitals are now using activated charcoal instead.
posted by hyperizer at 2:34 PM on November 3, 2003

Ipecacuahna? I thought that went out of fashion with the rest of the Victorian medicine cabinet, such as Harris's Patent Pills For The Ague. And lancets.
posted by riviera at 2:44 PM on November 3, 2003

when I first read this, I thought you wanted me to throw out my Mike Patton Ipecac records
posted by deftone at 2:47 PM on November 3, 2003

"So now what are we supposed to use for that purpose?"

posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:59 PM on November 3, 2003

Nice use of anagrams in the thread title, soyjoy!
posted by notsnot at 3:39 PM on November 3, 2003

Man...ipecac used to be THE garunteed ticket to a day off of school for the hard-core faker.

Mom: I dunno, Billy, you look pretty well today, I think I'm going to send you to school.
Billy: okay mom, but I'm not feeling so [RETCH!]

Fantastic stuff. Every kid should be given a bottle for Halloween.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 4:39 PM on November 3, 2003

You'd be surprised by how many bulimics on pro-eating disorder sites talk about the joys of ipecac.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:49 PM on November 3, 2003

But without ipecac, how would Anne of Green Gables saved Minnie May??
posted by bcwinters at 6:17 PM on November 3, 2003

Sense of security? Hmmm... OK, if you're looking for a "thing" or object as a talisman (as you put it), how about cupboard and drawer latches instead?

In addition to the paramedic thing, I also used to do in-home safety audits (childproofing, smoke alarms, etc.). You'd be surprised how many homes with infants and little kids don't have latches on cupboards and drawers that contain nasty, dangerous stuff. The common answer was, "Oh, little Johnny/Susie is too little to be able to get into those, anyway."

No. He's. Not.
posted by wdpeck at 6:24 PM on November 3, 2003

I once had to give our family dog ipecac after he ate an entire bag of chocolate chips. I think most people don't realize that ingesting the syrup doesn't just make you throw up once (I've heard drinking saltwater will do that for ya), it makes you vomit, and vomit, and vomit some more over the course of the next two hours.
Let's just say it was me, the dog, the bathtub, and a whole lotta ugliness.
posted by bonheur at 7:17 PM on November 3, 2003

bonheur - you're a good and caring dog-owner. I hope never to be stuck in that situation. Death by chocolate chips.....I've been wondering about the deadly canine dosage.

Meanwhile - I know of a few things which will make humans throw up for four to six hours straight.....

* urp *
posted by troutfishing at 7:56 PM on November 3, 2003

I hadn't seen this news...so, thanks for posting it. I bought a tiny bottle when my baby was born...just because I remember my mom having it, and my grandmothers, and everyone else's parents...it was like a staple of the medicine cabinets for houses with kids.

Easy enough to throw it away...although, I wonder, is it safe to just throw it away, or should it be disposed of like other toxic chemicals? Wouldn't this be an awfully bad thing to have show up in the water table?

The common answer was, "Oh, little Johnny/Susie is too little to be able to get into those, anyway." No. He's. Not. - wdpeck

This I can verify. My son is almost 11 months old, and he's already figured out how to open childproofed cabinets. Currently I have almost no counter space in kitchen or bathrooms because everything that was under the counters is now on top of the counters while I try and figure out a new solution...(suggestions welcome, I might be missing something obvious.)
posted by dejah420 at 8:13 PM on November 3, 2003

If you call poison control, they'll tell you what to do.

Oh, and don't give dogs ipecac to make them vomit, hydrogen peroxide is a better choice. But again, call animal poison control first, as with humans, some things are better off left unbarfed-up (chocolate should be vomited).

And they haven't replaced ipecac with activated charcoal - the primary purpose giving of charcoal is to absorb the poison, not to cause vomiting.
posted by biscotti at 8:27 PM on November 3, 2003

dejah, this is the best cabinet lock we've found, and I think we've tried just about all of them. It also helps to have one or two cabinets they are allowed to get into (we let our kids get into the pots and pans and baking sheets) because eventually they'll lose interest. The thrill of mystery seems to fade.
posted by whatnot at 9:02 PM on November 3, 2003

The body that regulates Emergency Medical Technicians in New Jersey has been recommending that care providers NOT use syrup of ipecac--instead use activated charcoal to absorb the poison.
posted by MarkO at 10:45 PM on November 3, 2003

biscotti's correct - we had to use hydrogen peroxide on our pair of border collies when they decided that the *big bag* of mixed chocolates was reeeeeal yummy. Both of them were fine afterwards and there wasn't any prolonged vomiting. The dogs didn't seem to mind it all that much - it was pretty much: "glunk-glunk, wag, wag, happy dance, raaaaalph, wag, wag, happy dance." YMMV.
posted by Fat Elvis at 4:10 AM on November 4, 2003

Thanks whatnot. Unfortunately, when I built this house, I didn't think we'd ever have children...so I did these beautiful cabinets that don't have external hardware. I may just have to sacrifice the cabinets and install knobs/handles, rather than trying those behind the door latch thingies...which don't seem very effective at all.

Good to know about peroxide, as my dog is always curious about people food. :)
posted by dejah420 at 6:38 AM on November 4, 2003

Raw garlic and burnt milk are pretty good for inducing vomiting, too.
posted by aws17576 at 8:54 PM on November 5, 2003

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