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Cerebral palsy, gagging problem, recurring problem, reflux problem

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Practicing since : 2002
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My daughter is 20 yrs. old and has cerebral palsy. She has a horrible gagging problem. Sometimes she won't gag at all for a period of time, like several days, but then when she begins gagging, she can't stop. She doesn't usually vomit when gagging, but she has been known to vomit occasionally if gagging alot sometimes. I have presented this problem to her dr. but he just tells me that its the nasal drip at the back of her throat from allergies and has prescribed over the counter meds which do nothing. What can this be?? What can be done. Thank you. Nita
Posted Sun, 15 Apr 2012 in GERD
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 23 minutes later
Hello, thank you for your query.

The question here is whether there are any factors which precipitate the gagging episodes. It is true that postnasal drainage could contribute to this and sometimes over the counter preparations may be of some use in limiting the production of mucous. There are prescription inhaled steroid medications such as fluticasone or Flonase which have been used successfully in limiting postnasal drainage which you might inquire about from her doctor.

Another question is whether she has developed some degree of difficulty in swallowing or clearing her oral secretions. This could be checked via a swallow evaluation which is performed usually by a speech therapist. If it is the secretions which trigger the gagging, maybe you could evaluate her diet to see if there are certain foods such as dairy products which cause her to generate more secretions.

I hope I have adequately addressed your concern. I am available for your followups.
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Follow-up: Cerebral palsy, gagging problem, recurring problem, reflux problem 2 hours later
Thank you so much Dr. Galamaga! I have never been told about this before now. I would like to also ask you about whether it would be possible that the gagging would have something to do with some 'reflux' problem? Are there any procedures a dr. can perform to help in diagnosing this gagging problem. My daughter is sitting here next to me and I have to "kringe" every time she gags..... which is about every 2 minutes.... I'm worried cause she looks like she's fixin to start crying! What can I do for now??? Until I can get her to the dr. on Monday? Nita
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 14 minutes later
Hello XXXXXXX You are very welcome. Reflux can contribute to some of the symptoms she has particularly if it has been present for an extended period of time. You could try an over the counter acid suppressing medicine to see if this might provide some relief. In the meantime try to keep her in an upright position when awake and when she sleeps give her a couple of pillows to prop up her body. This would certainly help if she is having some reflux. I understand this is causing you a great deal of worry and I hope I have helped provide you some good informative advice. I am available for your followup.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Cerebral palsy, gagging problem, recurring problem, reflux problem 15 hours later
Thank you again Dr. XXXXXXX You said I could try over the counter acid suppressing meds to see if this might provide some relief--- can you tell me what some of these meds are so I can try some of them? Thank you again. You have been very helpful. You've provided more information in 24 hours than my daughter's M.D. has in the past 5 years!!! I appreciate you very much. God bless you. Nita
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 55 minutes later
Hello again and thank you for your kind words. It depends on your location regarding the exact names of the medications. Let me give you an example of a few of the generic names and you can discuss with pharmacist.

1) Lansoprazole (sometimes referred to as Prevacid)

2) Ranitidine (sometimes referred to as Zantac)

3) Famotidine (sometimes referred to as Pepcid)

Any of these may be helpful. It takes some days before you can tell if she has benefit - at least 2 weeks.

I wish you and your daughter optimal health! Thank you again for your query.
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