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choking on liquids

Posted by adrala

Every so often, liquid - whether it be my own saliva, drinking liquid, or juice from the food I'm eating - will slip down the wrong pipe and my body will begin to do what it's supposed to do, which is to try to purge the airway of the foreign substance. The problem occurs when something in my throat does not stop spasming and I can't get much, if any, air into my lungs. This goes on for what seems like a few minutes and it scares the ^@% & out of me and the people around me. I begin gasping for air and I frequently feel like I may faint or die if the spasming goes on very much longer.

This happened again last night when I was eating trail mix and a small amount of pineapple juice started going down my throat prior to me being ready for it. I immediately started choking and I spit the remaining food out of my mouth. With all food out of my mouth, my throat remained shut and I could not get any air in at all for the first four or five attempts. I could exhale to try to further clear my throat in case food remained, but after exhaling I could not get any air back in. As you can imagine, panic mode kicked in and I started walking to the part of the house where my wife and kids were in case I passed out. When she saw me drop to my hands and knees gasping for air, she naturally started to panic along with me. After what seemed like 2 -3 minutes of this, the spasming in my throat gradually stopped and I slowly came back to reality. Unfortunately my young kids had to see that and they thought I was dying.

This same scenerio can happen if just a little bit of my own saliva slips down the wrong pipe. My wife said that she has seen someone go into an asthma attack and what happened to me last night is what it looked like.

Can someone shed some light on why I have such violent and sustained spasms when this occurs?

Answers (1)
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I have had the same problem, kind of scary until you can clear the airway and take a good breath.  Some years ago I had a barium swallow exam and I was able to see the problem clearly.  When I swallowed liquids some of the liquid would go down and then splash back up and be sucked into my windpipe (regurgitation).  The diagnosis was GERD and I was given a Nexium type medication and told to watch my diet and not to eat before going to bed.  This is a very common problem and can be treated usually with the above.   If untreated the acid which comes up with the liquid can burn the esophagus.  Make an appointment to see your doctor for a difinite diagnosis and treatment plan.  Best to let him/her decide if GERD is your problem or perhaps something else.  Don't worry, just be your own best advocate and do something to fix it.
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