You’ve probably heard of the term “getting your stomach pumped.” Stomach pumping, otherwise known as gastric suction, gastric lavage, or nasogastric tube suction, is a procedure that a doctor performs to quickly empty the contents of the stomach. This procedure is only administered in emergency medical situations to prevent serious health complications.


Why Someone May Need to Get Their Stomach Pumped

Someone may need to get their stomach pumped for a variety of reasons. First, someone should get their stomach pumped if they swallowed a poisonous chemical like a household cleaning product. They should also undergo this procedure if they overdosed on prescription medication or got alcohol poisoning after consuming a toxic amount of alcohol.

Here are some additional reasons that a doctor may decide to pump someone’s stomach:

  • To clean out the stomach during or after a gastrectomy
  • To safely perform surgery and limit risks
  • To decompress the stomach during assisted ventilation
  • To collect a sample of stomach acid
  • To relieve pressure on intestines if they’re blocked
  • To suction out blood after a stomach hemorrhage

Gastric suctions should be performed within the first four hours of someone consuming a toxic substance. If this substance has time to work its way into your digestive system, the procedure is less likely to be successful in removing it.


What Happens When You Get Your Stomach Pumped?

As a doctor prepares a gastric suction procedure, they will begin by numbing a patient’s throat to decrease irritation and gagging. Then, the doctor will insert a lubricated tube into the patient’s nose or mouth and thread it through their esophagus and into their stomach. The medical professional will then spray water or saline down the tube. Finally, they will apply suction through the tube to remove toxic contents from the stomach.

Even though getting your stomach pumped is a better alternative to experiencing a poisoning or overdose, it can still come with undesirable & potentially dangerous side effects. Some risks that may come from receiving a gastric suction procedure include aspiration pneumonia (which comes with symptoms such as wheezing, chest pain, coughing up phlegm, bluish tint to the skin, exhaustion, and fever), vocal cord spasms, a hole in the esophagus, and minor bleeding.


Stomach Pumping Prep & Aftercare

Since stomach pumpings are usually only administered in the case of emergencies, most people don’t know when they are about to receive one unless their doctor tells them that they are collecting samples in advance. Therefore, there is no way to prepare for this procedure. However, those who do know about the procedure in advance should avoid taking certain medications in the days leading up to getting their stomach pumped.

A doctor will either remove the tube after the procedure or leave it in for a certain period of time, depending on the individual and their condition. Patients will be instructed not to eat solid foods for a few hours and should only consume thin liquids. Individuals who get their stomach pumped and experience withdrawal symptoms from drugs or alcohol should receive medical attention and are encouraged to enroll in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.

To learn more about the process of getting your stomach pumped, contact our team of medical professionals and substance abuse treatment representatives by calling 267.209.7312.