Vomiting

If the cause of vomiting cannot be promptly removed, it can be prevented, or at least suppressed by drugs.

The pharmacology of vomiting was little studied until the world war of 1939-45, when motion sickness attained military importance as a possible handicap for sea landings made in the face of resistance. The British military authorities and the Medical Research Council therefore organised an investigation. Whenever there was a prospect of sufficiently rough weather, about 70 soldiers were sent to sea in small ships, again and again, after being dosed with a drug or a dummy tablet and having had their mouths inspected to detect noncompliance. The ships returned to land when up to 40% of the soldiers vomited. 'On the whole the men enjoyed their trips;' some of them, however, being soldiers, thought the tablets were given in order to make them vomit and some 'believed firmly in the efficacy of the dummy tablets'. It was concluded that, of the remedies tested, hyoscine (0.6 mg or 1.2 mg) was the most effective.5

5 Holling H E et al 1944 Lancet 1:127.

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