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What can you do when you swallow wrong and can't get a breath?


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#1 A.J. at J.A.

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 08:45 PM

This happened to me this morning and was worse than I've ever had it. For some reason I swallowed wrong and some saliva went down my windpipe. I couldn't get a breath. Everytime I would try to get a breath it was like there was a block. My DH had no idea what to do (or what happened) and was freaking out. I finally wrote "swallowed wrong" on our dry erase board on the fridge.

Finally, I figured out if I tried to "push" breath out when I wasn't trying to breathe in, then I was able to get a little bit of air on the breath in and eventually it normalized. But, left me really afraid. Could I have died from this? What is this called? What can we do if it happens again and I can't figure out how to resolve it?

I tried to do a google search to get some answers but couldn't really figure out what to google.

Any ideas would be much appreciated. This happens to me every so often and I would like to have some knowledge so I don't freak out every time...also so that I don't die from it some time. I'm not usually paranoid but this is something that happens to me frequently enough to cause me some concern.

Thanks,
Angela

#2 ereks mom

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 08:51 PM

I have to force my throat to relax and then s-l-o-w-l-y try to draw in a little air, then cough really hard. I do this several times until I get over it. It terrifies me too!

#3 Brindee

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 08:54 PM

I do that too! I don't panic too much when it happens, though I HATE it cuz I can't breathe! The thing that freaks me out is that I've done it so much that my family isn't really concerned anymore, even my dh! I always think, "Well, what if THIS is the time that I can't get my breath? By the time they realize it, it'll be too late!"

I don't have any answers. I'd love to know too, so I'm hoping SOMEbody has an idea!

#4 Pensguys

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 09:24 PM

I don't have any information except that it is your epiglottis that didn't close fast enough before the saliva went into your windpipe.

#5 Jean in Newcastle

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 10:11 PM

I found this: "Common causes of laryngospasm are liquid or saliva that went the wrong way into the larnyx, acid reflux disease, smoke, strong smells, emotion, alcohol, cold or rapid bursts of air, and even spicy foods.

Some techniques that may help ease the spasm include:

*
Breathe through your nose rather than mouth.
*
Pull in a breath from lower down, inflating your belly rather than breathing shallowly.
*
When exhaling, very lightly blow out a sustained breath, like a soft whistle without puckering the lips.
*
Swallow repetitively.

Others can help by giving calm reassurance, gentle back rubbing (not whacking) and other support in riding out the spasm."

#6 A.J. at J.A.

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 10:41 PM

I found this: "Common causes of laryngospasm are liquid or saliva that went the wrong way into the larnyx, acid reflux disease, smoke, strong smells, emotion, alcohol, cold or rapid bursts of air, and even spicy foods.

Some techniques that may help ease the spasm include:

*
Breathe through your nose rather than mouth.
*
Pull in a breath from lower down, inflating your belly rather than breathing shallowly.
*
When exhaling, very lightly blow out a sustained breath, like a soft whistle without puckering the lips.
*
Swallow repetitively.

Others can help by giving calm reassurance, gentle back rubbing (not whacking) and other support in riding out the spasm."


Thank you! I have reflux so maybe that is why it happens to me relatively often. Thanks so much for the information. Did it mention the likelihood of this being a severe event? (ie, dying?)

Thanks again,
Angela

#7 Jean in Newcastle

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 10:58 PM

I actually found it on a site about ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). It can lead to death in someone who is severely disabled (there was a reference to someone with CP dying) but I don't think it is as likely with a relatively healthy person. It sure is scary though (it has happened to me too!).

#8 A.J. at J.A.

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 10:59 PM

Thanks for the term "laryngospasm" that helped my search.

Here is one thing I found that is reassuring, before I pass out my muscles will relax and I will breathe again. Thanks also for the things you listed on how to respond to make the expisode pass more quickly. I think it is also a sign that perhaps my reflux isn't as quite under control as I thought it was. :glare:

"This involuntary reflex can be triggered by a number of things including fluids touching the opening of the larynx. Dr. Fisher relates that it can occur as a post-surgery complication and that cold, as in a sudden plunge in cold water, can also trigger it. He says that smokers can be susceptible because their throats are made more sensitive by the irritation of inhaled tobacco smoke. People who suffer from acid reflux, or heartburn, where stomach acids are brought back up and irritate the throat can also be predisposed to laryngospasm.

He goes on to report that it's not possible to die from laryngospasm, as long as there's air to breathe. As the oxygen level in the blood drops and before the person loses consciousness, the muscles that have contracted the larynx will relax, opening the airway. Where the person can die is if they are face down or under water, and that renewed breathing sucks water into the lungs, resulting in drowning."

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#9 Quiver0f10

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 07:48 AM

Next time try closing your mouth and breathing through your nose. Somehow it relaxes the throat muscles and you will be able to breath. I don't know why it works, but it does.

#10 Brindee

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 09:51 AM

Thanks for all the information, ya'll!

I don't have acid reflux or heartburn, and I don't smoke (never have), so I must just have a sensitive larynx? It's good to know there's a name and that the muscles relax and allow you to breathe before you die!

I think I've tried breathing through my nose and I can't! I don't EVER want it to happen again, but if it does, I'll try to breathe through my nose.

Thanks again!

#11 Hattie

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 08:26 PM

I was on my way home from work and swallow wrong and couln't get my breath. I was on my cell phone so the party I was talking to could only hear me struggling to get air. I was luckly stopped at a stop sign, threw my car in park because I thought I was going to pass out. I was digging at my throat trying to get air and kept telling myself to relax. FINALLY I squeezed some air in and just tryed to relax and eventually I could take air in. I was very scared, and of course the car behind me just went around, didn't bother to stop and see if I was ok or not. I finally got back on my phone but only one word sentence would come out. Eventually I could speak. This has happeded before but not this bad or long. Next time I'll try breathing out of my nose. I had my car door open and was ready to throw myself against the side of my car. Very tramatic! Thanks for the ideas but I hope I don't have to go through this again.

#12 Tylianna

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 09:12 PM

I've found that swallowing air works for me. It moves the stuff away from whatever is causing it...? I don't know... but it works!

#13 Slartibartfast

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 12:33 AM

That has happened to dh, I didn't know what was going on and heimliched him. :lol: It helped...somehow. I don't know if it made him breathe out or just josteling him around and manhandling him is what helped.

Edited by Sis, 13 January 2011 - 12:49 AM.


#14 Parrothead

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 12:41 AM

I've found that closing my mouth and breathing through my nose helps a lot. I don't panic like I did when this first started.

#15 mugiansk

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:50 PM

Although it is not a regular occurrence, I have had this happen to me more times than I can now count. It is usually triggered by drinking water and one time by food going down the wrong way. It happened one time while driving and it was terrifying because I could not easily pull over. So I had to focus on driving and trying to get air in.

 

I found this video about "straw breathing" very interesting and will try to practice it enough so that I remember it next time it happens. I thought others might find it helpful as well.

 

http://vimeo.com/78772085

 

If the link no loner works, search for Laryngospasm and Bastian Medical Media.


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#16 flaxin1

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 08:40 PM

I've had this happen quite a lot over the years. Not just sleeping either. Saliva goes down the wrong something and I'm gasping for air. What I find helps is any kind of liquid seems to open the airway.  SO SO SO scary though.


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#17 wintermom

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 09:06 PM

This happens to me sometimes. I was a competitive swimmer, and was used to getting waves of water splashed in my mouth. I guess my instinct is to relax, swallow the liquid, and relax some more and just try to slow down the breathing. I've never panicked.

 

Sometimes the post-nasal drip can get flowing really good, too. That's more gooey and slow moving than saliva, but equally weird sensation for breathing and/or coughing.



#18 Eagle

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 10:10 PM

I find it helpful to put both arms straight up above your head. I taught both my children to do that when they choke (from swallowing wrong or choking on food). Even the baby does it when he gulps down water the wrong way.

#19 shanvan

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 10:41 PM

Original post is from 2008!  


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#20 Korrale

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 11:14 PM

I get this now. Usually when eating. And I chew thoroughly. I drink water and it helps.


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