skip to Main Content


Low Risk

Also known as:

emesis heaving puke retching vomitus

A women kneeling at over the toilet with vomit in.
Possible Symptoms
  • Possible spreading of viruses and bacteria
What to Do
  1. Assist the vomiting individual especially infants and children and intoxicated or impaired adults.
  2. Rinse mouth thoroughly with water, swish around and spit out, repeat multiple times as needed.
  3. Offer sips of clear fluids slowly. If the person vomits again, wait 20-30 minutes and then try clear fluids slowly again.
If Exposed to Eyes

If someone gets vomit in the eye, it requires prompt first aid to avoid an eye injury and to try to prevent transmission of infection.

  1. Start rinsing eye(s) with lukewarm water.
  2. Call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for further recommendations.


If vomit is accidentally inhaled into the lungs it can develop into an aspiration pneumonia. This is a potentially serious condition that needs prompt medical attention.

Additional Information

Quick Facts about vomit:

Vomiting is not a pleasant experience, but it does serve a purpose. It is the body’s way of protecting itself by getting rid of any harmful substance present in the stomach so it cannot do further harm to the body. Vomit is a body fluid that may carry viruses, bacteria, and microorganisms. Vomiting can result from infections, indigestion, motion sickness, migraine headaches, food poisoning, and morning sickness among other reasons. Vomit contains undigested foods along with stomach acids used to break down the food.

While vomiting, the delicate tissues of the esophagus and throat are exposed to these acids, which can result in a burning sensation in the chest area like heartburn and throat irritation. Vomiting is dangerous if the stomach contents get inhaled into the lungs, this can lead to an infection developing in the lungs (aspiration pneumonia).   

What happens if you swallow vomit?

Swallowing vomit happens sometimes but there is no need to become overly concerned. The vomit goes back to an already irritated stomach and will either be vomited back up or travel through the digestive system and come out in the stool. Sometimes we get calls about small children who eat the vomit from a pet or another person. It is distressing to think of but usually, there are only minor symptoms such as stomach upset, and possible vomiting. The poison center recommends wiping the mouth with a soft, wet cloth or swishing with water and spit out to help rinse away any residual taste from the vomit. Drinking a serving size of water helps dilute any vomit that has reached the stomach and provides some comfort if the stomach is irritated.

Seek medical advice if you experience persistent symptoms such as severe nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or difficulty breathing, it’s important to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional for appropriate evaluation and management.


If you find someone has eaten or swallowed a small amount of vomit, do not panic. Wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

**Note: Don’t forget, every case is different. To make sure you are getting the best information for your individual situation, click below to call or chat. It is fast, free, and confidential.

Take The Missouri Poison Center With You

Emergencies don’t wait for you, so you shouldn’t have to wait to call for help. Get the Missouri Poison Center app with poison information and a link to the Poison Help Line. It is just a click away during the most stressful moments. Our registered nurses and pharmacists are here 24/7/365 days a year to help guide you through poison exposures and overdose emergencies.

Don’t wait. Download now.

Graphic illustration of the MPC app on an iPhone home screen
Call Now