What is emetophobia?(Answer)

In this brief blog, we will be discussing the definition of emetophobia, the fear of vomiting as a symptom of emetophobia, and many more insights about emetophobia.

An overview of emetophobia

Emetophobia is the fear of being sick. This can also manifest in the fear of seeing people getting sick. 

People with emetophobia are less likely to go into hospitals since they can’t tolerate seeing people get sick.

They are also afraid of getting themselves sick which can lead to frustrating scenarios.

For instance, a person with emetophobia is picky about the foods he or she eats which can lead to the inability to go to certain restaurants with certain foods.

This can frustrate family members who like the food in the restaurant that the person with emetophobia hates. 

Nevertheless, the person with emetophobia will persist that they can’t go to this restaurant because the food makes him or her sick.  

What are the symptoms of emetophobia?

The symptoms of emetophobia focus on the fear of getting sick and seeing people getting sick.

This kind of fear can make affected people avoid at all costs situations that have a high chance of getting themselves sick or being with other people who are sick. 

You might become adamant about getting away from these situations that can trigger your emetophobia.

Symptoms that might indicate that you have this kind of fear are the following:

  • eliminating foods that you connect with nausea
  • eating slowly, eating only at home or eating little amounts of food
  • smelling or assessing food usually to make sure it hasn’t gone bad
  • not touching surfaces that could have germs that lead to illness such as doorknobs, toilet seats or flushes, public computers or handrails
  • washing hands, dishes, food, and food preparation tools a lot that time is wasted for other important activities
  • not drinking alcohol or taking prescribed medication that could cause vomiting
  • Withdrawing from travel, parties, school, public transportation, or any crowded public space
  • having difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, or speedy heartbeat at the thought of nausea

These preventive behaviours are associated with other mental health problems which are the following:

  • excessive fear of seeing someone puke
  • excessive fear of having to vomit but not being able to find a restroom
  • excessive fear of not being able to stop vomiting
  • anxiety at the thought of not being able to get away from a crowded area if someone pukes
  • anxiety and distress when feeling sick or thinking about puke
  • Persistent and irrational thoughts associated with a behaviour to a past experience involving puke such as avoiding any plaid clothing after vomiting in public while wearing a plaid shirt

You need to remember that each phobia is experienced in unique ways by people.

For instance, you may be more fearful about throwing up yourself while other people are more uncomfortable about seeing other people throwing up.

Also, people with any kind of specific phobia are aware that their fears about specific objects or situations aren’t normal.

For instance, a person with a fear of cats will do everything to make sure that they don’t cross paths with a cat even though, normal people can’t really avoid cats that can unexpectedly cross paths with them.

This kind of information may arouse distress in affected people with any kind of specific phobia.

This awareness may also make the affected person more humiliated when they have to meet other people and they may inevitably know one’s fear.

You can learn more about the different specific phobias by buying this book on this website.

Multiple causes of emetophobia

Any kind of phobia can develop within the person after a traumatic experience with the feared object or situation.

The traumatic experiences that may bring the person to have emetophobia are the following situations:

  • getting really sick in public
  • having a bad scenario of food poisoning
  • seeing someone else vomit
  • having someone throw up on you
  • having a panic attack during a situation of throwing up

Emetophobia can also be caused by the genetics that may be inside the person which has influenced the appearance of this kind of fear.

For instance, a family member may have this kind of fear which makes you more likely to have this fear as well.

The cause of emetophobia may begin during the younger years but most people with this kind of fear don’t remember about the traumatic experience that has brought this fear.

If you can’t find the main cause of this kind of fear, you don’t need to panic. 

Psychological interventions are there to guide you in controlling emetophobia even if you don’t know the cause.

How is emetophobia diagnosed by mental health professionals?

Emetophobia is diagnosed by mental health professionals by configuring the symptoms that imply that the client has this kind of fear and this fear has made the client distressed and dysfunctional in his or her life.

The diagnostic criteria that will guide the mental health practitioner in the credibility of the diagnosis of this kind of fear are the following symptoms:

  • a significant fear and nervous response that occurs directly after seeing or thinking about throwing up
  • active withdrawal of situations that could involve throwing up
  • Fear symptoms that last for at least six months

One of the main symptoms of emetophobia is obsessive-compulsive disorder and the mental health practitioner can use this as reference.

This kind of fear has also been said to be associated with agoraphobia.

Emetophobia can become distressing when this kind of fear is generalized to seeing another person or going to places that may or may not elicit vomiting can trigger this fear in the affected person which makes them not leave his or her home.

However, you may only fear public places because you are afraid of seeing people throw up and this kind of situation does not expect a diagnosis of agoraphobia.

You can learn more about agoraphobia by buying this book on this website.

Other psychological disorders that are associated with emetophobia

People with emetophobia are also susceptible to having other psychological disorders such as social anxiety, agoraphobia, and fear of flying.

The mentioned psychological disorders are quite typical since people who have the fear of vomiting find public places or situations that can elicit vomiting terrifying and needed to be avoided at all costs. 

This is why these people with emetophobia are more likely to discard social activities so that they can’t see people who are about to vomit or they won’t vomit.

People with this kind of fear are also avoidant of children since they believe that these young people are more susceptible to germs. 

Females who have emetophobia are afraid that they are pregnant since they are more terrified about the vomiting that comes with pregnancy.

These affected people are afraid of travelling by any kind since there is a high chance of them getting motion sickness and then, vomit or seeing others vomit. 

People with emetophobia are also avoidant of going on rollercoasters with friends due to getting sick themselves or seeing their friends throw up at the end of the ride.

How is emetophobia in people treated by professionals?

Emetophobia in people is treated by mental health professionals by using research-based interventions to let clients get the most effective treatments that can reduce this kind of fear.

In some people, specific phobias don’t really require too many psychological treatments. 

In some instances, affected people find their own methods in getting rid of these fears.

However, some phobias may be easier to withdraw than others.

Although it is better to seek psychological interventions if a specific phobia is threatening distress on the affected person.

Most people would prefer psychological therapies while others find medication to bring relief to people with emetophobia.

Here are some of the research-based psychological interventions that have been effective in treating emetophobia.

Exposure therapy for emetophobia

Exposure therapy is one of the most prescribed and effective in treating people with different specific phobias.

With this type of therapy, you will encounter your feared stimuli and the fear meter will gradually increase once you got to pass with the easy versions of the feared stimuli such as showing pictures of the feared stimuli.

In treating emetophobia, the person will be given some new food to help them get used to the food and not associate it with vomiting.

When you are undergoing these strategies, you will be taught about how to deal with your anxieties toward getting sick or seeing others who are about to get sick.

If you consider exposure therapy as too much for you, you can always check out systematic desensitization.

This is a form of this therapy where you are also exposed to the feared stimuli but you will be in a relaxed state while you do it.

You can learn more about systematic desensitization by buying this book on this website.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy for emetophobia

Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a kind of therapy used to minimize negative behaviours and thoughts that cause the person significant distress.

This kind of therapy is used for specific phobias by making these affected people to get exposed to their feared stimuli.

Once you’re gradually exposed to your feared stimuli, you will then do some assignments given by the therapist to help you apply your coping techniques in the real world.

Research has suggested that CBT is effective in treating people with emetophobia. 

This research was the first to make such discoveries about CBT and emetophobia.

You can learn more about CBT by buying this book on this website.

Medications for people with emetophobia

Although medications aren’t really completely effective toward reducing specific phobias, some psychotropic medications have been found to be useful in reducing some symptoms of phobias.

Beta-blockers are anti-anxiety medications that minimize the physical symptoms in people with anxiety. 

Beta-blockers are typically consumed before going to a nerve-wracking situation.

Benzodiazepines are sedative medications which can reduce anxiety symptoms but this aren’t helpful for the long-term treatment of the anxious person.

d-Cycloserine (DCS) is a medication that may have some advantages when used together with exposure therapy.

A study has found that this kind of medication can help increase the effects of exposure therapy to people with different anxiety disorders.

But exposure therapy has been generally effective for people with different specific phobias which may indicate that medications with this therapy shouldn’t be required.

You can learn more about this kind of therapy by buying this book on this website.


In this brief blog, we will have discussed the definition of emetophobia, the fear of vomiting as a symptom of emetophobia, and many more insights about emetophobia.

If you have questions about emetophobia and other information about this fear, please let us know about your queries and our team will assist you.

FAQs: What is emetophobia

Is emetophobia a mental illness?

Yes, emetophobia is a mental illness.

This is because people with this kind of fear may become distressed and dysfunctional in some areas in their lives.

For instance, these kinds of people are more likely to look for a restroom in a public mall and they can’t relax without a restroom in sight.

Is there a cure for emetophobia?

Yes, there is a cure for emetophobia.

The cure for this kind of fear is exposure therapy.

This can be described as showing the person with this kind of fear the feared stimuli gradually increasing the fear factor in the fear hierarchy.

This therapy starts with these people reading stories with the words vomiting and sick.

Is emetophobia a form of OCD?

Yes, emetophobia can be a form of OCD.

It was found that people with this kind of fear may have an underlying mental health condition which is OCD.

Other mental health conditions are associated with this kind of fear such as social anxiety and agoraphobia.

Do I have emetophobia?

You can have emetophobia if you have an excessive fear of getting sick or seeing other people get sick. 

You also need to show significant distress and dysfunction because of your fear such as not able to enjoy shopping with your friends because of your fear of getting sick.

Can emetophobia cause eating disorders?

Emetophobia can cause eating disorders.

This situation only happens if the affected person has a tendency to developing eating disorders.

This can be developed when the person with this kind of fear will be picky about eating certain kinds of foods that allow him or her not to get sick.


ADAA. Fear of Vomiting, or Emetophobia.

Anxietycoach.com. Emetophobia: The Fear of Vomiting.


Healthline. Understanding Emetophobia or Fear of Vomit.