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Isopropyl Alcohol Inhalation as Treatment for Nausea and Vomiting

Spencer, Kathleen Walsh MSN, MA, RN, CS, CPSN


In my practice as a recovery room nurse, I had observed anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists wave an opened alcohol preparation pad under a patient's nose when he or she complained of nausea. When asked, “Why?” the response often was, “Because it works.” The following article describes the use of inhalation of isopropyl alcohol as a treatment for postoperative nausea and vomiting. Because alcohol swabs are so readily available, and certainly less expensive than some of the newer antiemetics on the market, this simple nursing intervention was worth investigating.

Clinical Nurse II at William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI.

Address correspondence to Kathleen Walsh Spencer, MSN, MA, RN, CS, CPSN, at 4560 Stoneleigh Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302. (e-mail:

Kathleen Walsh Spencer is the Editor of Plastic Surgical Nursing.

Copyright © 2004 by American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses