Salmonella outbreaks are coming up more often than what with eggs and chicken being a staple and everything from peanut butter from Peter Ban to Wild Kitty Cat foodstuffs and Cadbury Schweppes chocolates reporting contamination that results in problems. Salmonella is not confined to uncooked eggs, it is even growing in untreated foods as well. Salmonella outbreaks are involved with bouts of vomiting and this is why those with emetophobia or fear of vomiting are in the worst possible condition. Emetophobics can suffer as a result of salmonella poisoning more severely than the normal population, what with irrational panic accompanying every bout of vomiting and making the condition may worsen.
What is Emetophobia?
Emetophobia, according to the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-R is a specific phobia. It is related to the blood-injection-injury type phobia and sufferers react every badly to vomiting bouts or observing others being sick. Phobics enter into the reality of the infected and make the assumption that they too will be unwell. The emetophobic may even fear his or her own body’s reaction and without treatment, there is trauma, rituals are used to defend against anxiety and the condition deteriorates. As gradual exposure is one form of treatment, it remains tough to deal with this condition.
Most with this phobia type fear vomiting, with a small percentage fearing seeing someone else being sick. This is a fairly recurrent phobia and it is more commonly observed in adolescents and females. Support websites abound for emetophobia.
Those with emetophobia are frightened of puking– anytime or anywhere. Others fear a vomiting bout in front of people or seeing another person vomit. Symptoms can be graded along intensity with every type of reaction from acute panic to mild attacks. There is increased heartbeat, an adrenalin rush, trouble breathing, choking sensations and giddiness as well as morbid fear of death along with perspiration, trembling and numbness. There is derealisation akin the PTSD flashback. The individual becomes completely dissociated.
Many emetophobics report such a severe fear of vomiting that they would rather be dead than puke. Vomiting is linked to death anxiety. In severe cases, OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder type symptoms and agoraphobia or fear of restricted and crowded places may overcome the emetophobic. Emetophobics may even wash their hands countless times just to rid themselves of “germs” and prevent vomiting. The fear can be so severe that the phobic individual may even refuse to leave home for the fear of catching a disease and vomiting.
Engaging in obsessive, ritual type behavior to relieve the anxiety, emetophobics may even be superstitious about dates on which they previously puked. Here are the characteristics of emetophobics:
- Extreme cleanliness
- Anxiety about outside food and salmonella leading to vomiting
- Nausea and stomach cramps as well as diarrhea a great deal of time
- Avoidance of prescription medication
- Fear of animals and children as well as adults who vomit
- Deep fear of pregnant women on account of vomiting during delivery or following morning sickness
- Fear of hospitals, nursing homes and anesthesia due to vomiting as an effect
- Fear of traveling on account of motion sickness
- Fear of roller coasters and heights because of which they may vomit
- Avoidance of movie or TV programs showing vomiting
- Fear of public restrooms and vomiting there
- Fear of psychotherapeutic intervention that requires exposure to visiting
- Emetophobics also fear jobs and limit career choices, because they are frightened of traveling outside and getting sick
- Fear of others coughing and burping and associated aspects with puking as the final outcome
- Nightmares and night terrors about vomiting
- Refusal or avoidance of vomiting
- Anger and despair at symptoms
When they see someone vomiting or feeling ill, emetophobics will panic immediately and become irrational and dissociate rapidly, causing crying, shouting and self-destructive behaviors. They will also be extra sensitive to feelings of nausea and engaging in vomiting. They may even try to escape from the vomiting situation to the detriment of others. If they are trapped, they may close their ears and eyes for long duration.
In case emetophobics feel nauseous, they may even refuse to ingest or consume any solids or liquids. Dizziness, headache and body temperature may result. Refusing medication, in the event of side effects like vomiting is also common. An assumption may be made that the panic attack is being caused by vomiting. They may even try to ask for help and panic to the point of harming self or others. They may even try OTC medications to control vomiting.
One single aspect does not cause vomiting. Emetophobics may be reporting trauma in relation to puking since childhood. Suffers details constant trauma related to vomiting. Anxiety in families, trauma, separation anxiety and anxious focus on children are common to sufferers. Hereditary factors are also implicated in the etiology of this disorder. Vomiting presents a danger that is avoided to increase the emetophobic’s sense of safety.
Therapy serves to generate compassion and create a stronger support system for the emetophobic. Cognitive behavioral methods should be applied in the event of strong symptoms. Client-centered or Rogerian/humanistic therapy is also beneficial for the treatment of this disorder. Treatment involves graded exposure to stimuli that are feared or vomit and vomit associated material. Misdiagnosis is important to avoid. Emetophobics become associated with anorexia nervosa, OCD, social phobia and other disorders belonging to the spectrum of the DMS-IV-r.
But this is wrong. Emetophobia is a disease in its own right. OCD however, is a disorder which is frequently co-morbid (i.e it occurs) along with emetophobia. The key sign is that the person only has a fear of vomiting in public, though he or she is not afraid of social interaction. Agoraphobia or fear of crowded places can also occur along with emetophobia. IBS, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other forms of psychoses may also occur along with this disorder. PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder type symptoms may also result.
While CBT involving gradual exposure is a common therapy for this disorder, humanistic counseling can also work wonders. CBT is oriented towards creating the right thought patterns to correct flaws in thinking associating vomiting with danger and death.
In extreme cases, other disorders being co-morbid, anti-anxiety medication may be required. Emetophobics respond well to anti-anxiety medication and topical treatments such as a relaxing massage also work well.
Emetophobia can be treated in 8-10 standard sessions. The aim is to get the client to become anxiety-free. The goal of therapy is to rid the person of anxiety. Gradual methods of desensitization work well. Those with emetophobia exhibit distinctive symptoms and need a gentle therapeutic relationship to combat the fear of vomiting. A winning perspective and a fresh mindset are taken to combat the condition. It can make all the difference to your reactions to salmonella scares and other such factors.