Ipecac syrup (Oral)
Generic name: ipecac syrup [ IP-e-kak-SIR-up ]
Drug class: Antidotes
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 8, 2023.
Uses for ipecac syrup
Ipecac is used in the emergency treatment of certain kinds of poisoning. It is used to cause vomiting of the poison.
Only the syrup form of ipecac should be used. A bottle of ipecac labeled as being Ipecac Fluidextract or Ipecac Tincture should not be used. These dosage forms are too strong and may cause serious side effects or death. Only ipecac syrup contains the proper strength of ipecac for treating poisonings.
Ordinarily, this medicine should not be used if strychnine, corrosives such as alkalies (lye) and strong acids, or petroleum distillates such as kerosene, gasoline, coal oil, fuel oil, paint thinner, or cleaning fluid have been swallowed. It may cause seizures, additional injury to the throat, or pneumonia.
Ipecac should not be used to cause vomiting as a means of losing weight. If used regularly for this purpose, serious heart problems or even death may occur.
This medicine in amounts of more than 1 ounce is available only with your doctor's prescription. It is available in ½- and 1-ounce bottles without a prescription. However, before using ipecac syrup, call a poison control center, your doctor, or an emergency room for advice.
Before using ipecac syrup
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Infants and very young children are at a greater risk of choking with their own vomit (or getting vomit in their lungs). Therefore, it is especially important to call a poison control center, your doctor, or an emergency room for instructions before giving ipecac to an infant or young child.
This medicine has been tested and has not been shown to cause different side effects or problems in older people than it does in younger adults.
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Heart disease—There is an increased risk of heart problems, such as unusually fast heartbeat, if the ipecac is not vomited
Proper use of ipecac syrup
It is very important that you take this medicine only as directed. Do not take more of it and do not take it more often than recommended on the label, unless otherwise directed. When too much ipecac is used, it can cause damage to the heart and other muscles, and may even cause death.
Do not give this medicine to unconscious or very drowsy persons, since the vomited material may enter the lungs and cause pneumonia.
To help this medicine cause vomiting of the poison, adults should drink 1 full glass (8 ounces) of water and children should drink ½ to 1 full glass (4 to 8 ounces) of water immediately after taking this medicine. Water may be given first in the case of a small or scared child.
Do not take this medicine with milk, milk products, or with carbonated beverages. Milk or milk products may prevent this medicine from working properly, and carbonated beverages may cause swelling of the stomach.
If vomiting does not occur within 20 to 30 minutes after you have taken the first dose of this medicine, take a second dose. If vomiting does not occur after you have taken the second dose, you must immediately see your doctor or go to an emergency room.
If you have been told to take both this medicine and activated charcoal to treat the poisoning, do not take the activated charcoal until after you have taken this medicine to cause vomiting and vomiting has stopped. This takes usually about 30 minutes.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage form (syrup):
- For treatment of poisoning:
- Adults and teenagers—The usual dose is 15 to 30 milliliters (mL) (1 to 2 tablespoonfuls), followed immediately by one full glass (240 mL) of water. The dose may be repeated one time after twenty to thirty minutes if vomiting does not occur.
- Children 1 to 12 years of age—The usual dose is 15 mL (1 tablespoonful). One-half to one full glass (120 to 240 mL) of water should be taken right before or right after the dose. The dose may be repeated one time after twenty to thirty minutes if vomiting does not occur.
- Children 6 months to 1 year of age—The usual dose is 5 to 10 mL (1 to 2 teaspoonfuls). One-half to one full glass (120 to 240 mL) of water should be taken right before or right after the dose. The dose may be repeated one time after twenty to thirty minutes if vomiting does not occur.
- Children up to 6 months of age—Ipecac must be given only under the direction of your doctor.
- For treatment of poisoning:
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Do not keep a bottle of ipecac that has been opened. Ipecac may evaporate over a period of time. It is best to replace it with a new one.
Side Effects of ipecac syrup
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
Symptoms of overdose (may also occur if ipecac is taken regularly)
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- nausea or vomiting (continuing more than 30 minutes)
- stomach cramps or pain
- troubled breathing
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- weakness, aching, and stiffness of muscles, especially those of the neck, arms, and legs
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about ipecac
- Check interactions
- Compare alternatives
- Side effects
- Dosage information
- During pregnancy
- Drug class: antidotes
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.