Emetophobia is defined as a fear of vomiting. Generally, the condition starts in childhood when a parent is uneasy about vomiting which sometimes leads to the child developing emetophobia. Tentative links have also been made with negative childhood experiences of vomiting e.g. food poisoning. However, in many cases, the sufferer has no idea why they have the condition.
Sufferers fall into two categories:
- Fear of self vomiting
- Fear of other people vomiting
Many sufferers avoid using public transport and often insist that they travel by car where they are the driver. Many will adopt strict food hygiene standards and become overly cautious about the types of food they eat, especially when eating out.
There is often a need to avoid pregnancy due to the risks of “morning sickness” and when a family member or friend becomes ill the emetophobe will frequently become extremely anxious. In more extreme cases the emetophobic individual can become socially isolated in order to minimise the risk of catching any infection. In extreme cases emetophobics can suffer panic attacks just from the sight or sound of someone vomiting.
Hypnotherapy is often one of the treatments of choice for panic attacks, fears and phobias and is theoretically considered suitable for emetophobia.