EMETICS, ANTIEMETICS, AND ANTIDIARRHEALS
Section I. OVERVIEW
Emetics, antiemetics, and antidiarrheals are three categories of drugs that affect
the gastrointestinal system. Each category of agents has its own distinct use for the
relief of patient discomfort. You must be familiar with these agents in order to provide
the patient with information which will enhance the medication's therapeutic effect
and/or provide greater patient safety and comfort.
Before any discussion is made of individual categories and specific agents, it is
necessary for you to learn/review the definition of each of these categories.
a. Emetic. An emetic is a chemical agent which will cause the patient to vomit
(i.e., produce emesis). Emesis is sometimes indicated when a patient ingests certain
b. Antiemetic. An antiemetic is an agent which prevents or alleviates nausea
and vomiting. Antiemetics are sometimes used to treat the nausea and vomiting
associated with motion sickness, pregnancy, or an illness.
c. Antidiarrheal. An antidiarrheal is an agent used to control diarrhea.
Antidiarrheals are sometimes prescribed to patients who have severe diarrhea.
Section II. EMETICS
An emetic is a chemical agent that will cause the patient to vomit (i.e., to produce
emesis). A physician may administer an emetic to a patient who has ingested a certain
type of chemical substance. Emetics are not indicated for all poisonings. Prior to
administering an emetic to a poisoning victim, the local poison control center should be
consulted to determine if this is the best procedure to follow.
EXAMPLES OF EMETIC AGENTS
a. Ipecac Syrup, USP. Ipecac syrup is a clear, amber, hydroalcoholic
preparation used in the treatment of poisoning and/or drug overdoses. This product
acts by stimulating the chemoreceptor trigger zone and by irritating the gastric mucosa.
Emesis usually occurs within 15 minutes after ingestion. The recommended dose of