Bulimia: Misuse of Ipecac Syrup

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Topic Overview

Syrup of ipecac is a medicine that causes vomiting. Its purpose is to empty the stomach after poisoning or drug overdose. It works by irritating the stomach lining until a person vomits. Some people who have bulimia nervosa use ipecac regularly to make themselves vomit. If used too often, ipecac can cause:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Coughing or choking.
  • Low blood pressure and a rapid heartbeat.
  • Chest and stomach pain.
  • Breathing problems.

If this product is abused or if too much of it is absorbed into the body, it can cause serious heart problems, such as cardiomyopathy , atrial fibrillation , or myocarditis , all of which can lead to death.

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ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014