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Drinking petrol to avoid vomiting while traveling could cause lung damage, respiratory failure –Physicians

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Lara Adejoro

Medical experts have warned that drinking petrol to prevent vomiting while travelling can lead to lung damage and respiratory failure.

According to the experts, if the effect of the petrol ingestion is also not properly taken care of, it can lead to death.

PUNCH HealthWise findings revealed that some women advise people who throw up while travelling to drink petrol as an antidote to vomiting.

However, a Consultant Pulmonologist, Dr. Ademola Fawibe said there is no scientific basis for drinking fuel to prevent vomiting before travelling.

Fawibe specifically noted that fuel is not meant for consumption.

“It is dangerous to drink petrol and the extent of the danger depends on the quantity taken. If you take a little petrol, it may not cause any serious problem or it may just be a minor one.

“However, the fact that it is not serious enough to lead to hospital admission doesn’t make it a healthy practice.

“But if it is taken in a large quantity, then there may be serious problems,” he said.

Fawibe said that when petrol is swallowed, it goes directly to the gastrointestinal tract, adding that the person that ingests it may experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

He noted further that if the ingested fuel is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood, then it may lead to various effects on different organs of the body.

“The most dangerous effect can occur if it is aspirated into the lungs, either when drinking or when vomiting.

“If this happens, it will go to the airway and the airway is meant only to accommodate air that is rich in oxygen and not liquid or solid.

“So, if fuel is aspirated into the airway, it can cause a serious problem like chemical pneumonitis which is a form of inflammation of the lungs. If this is severe, it can lead to respiratory failure or death, if not treated properly.”

The pulmonologist said throwing up during travelling may occur in some individuals, saying this could be due to abnormal response of the brain to information from the structure in the ear that is responsible for balancing.

“It is usually a mild condition. However, if it is considered severe and disabling, the individual is advised to visit a doctor for evaluation and treatment.

“Once again, it is dangerous to attempt treating or preventing it by drinking petrol,” he emphasised.

Also, public health physician and Director, Policy and Advocacy, at Nigeria Health Watch, Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, affirmed that if fuel is aspirated into the airway, it can lead to chemical pneumonitis

“The thing is that some people have motion sickness and that is not unusual. But, if it is recurrent, then one needs to visit a medical expert.

“If you see your doctor, they will give you some medications that can be taken before embarking on the journey but taking any chemical is just like trying to take your life,” he said.

According to an online portal, WebMD, one can get motion sickness when there are conflicts among the senses.

“Say you’re on a ride at the fair, and it’s spinning you around and upside down. Your eyes see one thing, your muscles feel another, and your inner ears sense something else.

“Your brain can’t take in all those mixed signals. That’s why you end up feeling dizzy and sick,” it said.

It noted that anybody can get motion sickness, but it’s most common in children and pregnant women.

“Motion sickness usually goes away once the journey is over. But if you’re still dizzy, have a headache, continue to vomit, notice the hearing loss or chest pain, call your doctor,” the portal noted.

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