Get your Health question answered in 3 easy steps
A Doctor will be with you shortly
Ask a Doctor Now
166 Doctors are Online

Having breathing problems while swallowing. What could be wrong?

User rating for this question
Very Good
Answered by

ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 2291 Questions
There are times when I swallow wrong and then I can't get my breath. It got so bad once that NO air got in or out. My hubby was there and didn't have a clue what to do. No food in the way, just a little liquid down the windpipe. I am now terrified that it will get that bad again. The little coughing at the beginning seems to not get out whatever went down, but just let less and less air in and out. I have researched and seen others speak of the same thing. Can't find any answers though. I don't want to worry about this. Do you know what might be happening and what I can do, if anything to prevent this?

Most Sincere Thanks!
Posted Tue, 14 May 2013 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 5 hours later

Thanks for posting the query

After going through the history I do feel you could be suffering from 'disorders of the vocal cords'.

The frequent aspiration of the liquids is due to neural related problems of the larynx and the vocal cords. The sensation of the lower pharynx and the superior part of the vocal cords is supplied by a nerve called 'superior laryngeal nerve' (SLN). When there is weakness of the SLN, the sensations become less due to which there is reapeated aspiration of food and salivary secretions. This can be really troublesome, as it can lead to aspiration pneumonia and rarely respiratory arrest.

Secondly, any irregular movement of the vocal cords such as partial paralysis or paradoxical movements can also cause aspiration.

My suggestion to you is to consult a good phono-surgeon or an ENT specialist for a complete evaluation of the vocal cords. A flexible nasopharyngo-laryngoscopy with or without a stroboscopy has to be done to assess the anatomy and the movements of the vocal cords.

Hope I have answered your query; I will be available for the follow up queries.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Question is related to
Medical Procedures
Medical Topics

The user accepted the expert's answer

Ask an ENT Specialist

© Ebix, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All the information, content and live chat provided on the site is intended to be for informational purposes only, and not a substitute for professional or medical advice. You should always speak with your doctor before you follow anything that you read on this website. Any health question asked on this site will be visible to the people who browse this site. Hence, the user assumes the responsibility not to divulge any personally identifiable information in the question. Use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions
Already Rated.
Your rating:

Ask a Doctor