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Emetophobia: The Ugly Fear Of Nausea And Vomiting

Emetophobia: The Ugly Fear Of Nausea And Vomiting(Trigger warning for emetophobes: the “N” and “V” words are used in this post.)

I really wanted to do another “Win Wednesday” post yesterday, but I couldn’t. And why, you might ask?

Well, I was hanging out on the bathroom floor with a box of saltines, a bottle of Pepto Bismol, peppermint oil, anti-nausea wristbands, Xanax, ginger candy, Pepsi, ginger ale, and Emetrol.

I’m deathly afraid of the stomach virus to the point where I have a legitimate phobia of throwing up. Believe it or not, this fear is incredibly common, and it has a name: emetophobia.


When I first learned it had a name, I felt less alone. I didn’t feel weird for engaging in bizarre preventative measures to prevent me from throwing up (even when puking would probably make me feel better).

For example: chewing some ginger gum at the first sign of nausea. Wearing anti-nausea wristbands in the car even before you feel nauseated. Always carrying a tin of peppermint Altoids in your purse or pocket.

Just in case.

Yesterday, as I lay on the bathroom floor in a mess of misery and fear, I turned to YouTube for distraction. First, I watched cute videos of small animals.

Then, for some reason, I entered “emetophobia” as a search term.

And I’m glad I did. I found the following videos by user ScaredToV, an emetophobic woman who details the extent of her phobic fear of norovirus and all things vomit-related.

Watching her videos actually made me feel better. It was comforting to know that, as I lay frantically worrying about how ill I felt, my pathological fear isn’t unique. Watch as ScaredToV explains how emetophobia impacts her life — especially her life at work as a restaurant server:

I completely identify with this girl. Do you?


I’ve memorized, unintentionally, each and every stomach virus I’ve ever had in my life. I can tell you how old I was for each one. I can tell you what month of the year it was when I threw up.

I can describe everything: the toilet, the food(s) I ate beforehand (and puked up), and what methods of distraction I used to keep my mind off of the nausea.

(Seriously, I’m not kidding. Let’s take my horrible stomach virus at age 6. The time: December, in the evening. At t-30 minutes, I was at the mall with my mom. I sat on Santa’s lap and couldn’t remember what I wanted for Christmas. Then, mom drove me home, I told her my belly didn’t feel good, and I puked up orange soda into a peach-colored toilet all night. I laid on the living room couch while my mom watched Dallas. I even remember having the shakes after each round of throwing up.)

Obviously, getting sick isn’t pleasant for anyone. But for emetophobes, it’s downright horrifying.

And even before the virus actually begins affecting the emetophobe’s body, the ruminations can be painfully disrupting.

Again, here’s ScaredToV with a story about eating Easter Dinner at her brother-in-law’s house. She found out at the person who’d prepared the Easter meal was recovering from the stomach virus:

If you’re afraid of vomiting like me, I hope you find this videos to be helpful. They don’t provide any tips or advice, but I so greatly identify with this woman’s stories — and perhaps you will, too.

(Be sure to check out the International Emetophobia Society, a web forum dedicated to bringing together emetophobes from all walks of life.)

Photo: Ciron810 on Flickr

Emetophobia: The Ugly Fear Of Nausea And Vomiting

Summer Beretsky

Summer Beretsky enjoys writing about her experiences with anxiety, panic, and Paxil. She had her first panic attack as an undergrad at Lycoming College and plenty more while she worked toward her M.A. in Communication from the University of Delaware. She contributes to the World of Psychology blog here on PsychCentral and has written for the Los Angeles Times. You can follow her on Twitter @summerberetsky.

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APA Reference
Beretsky, S. (2013). Emetophobia: The Ugly Fear Of Nausea And Vomiting. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 16 May 2013
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 May 2013
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