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Feel breathless, choked while eating due to the juice of the food I eat. What can this be ?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 983 Questions
i just had an incident that has actually happened to me once before. Both times I have been eating but at the time it happens no food is in my throat it is before the food is swallowed and like the juice from the food causes me to strangle and then It is as though I can't take a breath in and it actually sounds like Im gasping for air. I can breath out but I can't swallow or breath in air through my mouth. It passes after about a minute but that minute is very scary and i feel like i am going to suffocate. The first time I had just put a buffalo wing in my mouth to take a bite and before any food was in my mouth the juice hit the back of my throat and it felt like it closed off except for a tiny little airway that caused me to make a gasping noise. The same thing happened tonight when I had a chewy peppermint coated chocolate after dinner mint. The mint did not lodge, but the juice hit my throat and caused me to strangle then I couldn't breath in. I could breath out but I could not get air in except for a little pinhole type feeling and made a loud gasping sound with each attemt. It is very frightening however, It passes after a minute. Tonite two people actually came to start the heimelich (I was in a restaurant) because they thought I had food lodged. I waved them off because I knew that no food was in my throat it was just the juice. Please help me understand what this could be. I really scared the two people I was with at dinner and the people around me as well and myself. i am not aware of any gerd or acid reflux that I feel I have. It just feels as though it is triggered from the saliva with juice of the food I'm about to eat. I have no other medical problems nor have I ever been to and gastroenterologist.
Posted Mon, 16 Jul 2012 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Aparna Kohli 26 hours later

Thanks for writing in.
I am an associate in the department of Gastroenterology. We are having a XXXXXXX consultant looking at your case and we should be able to post the reply very soon.
In my opinion, we could be looking at a few possibilities. First remains anxiety which could very well be responsible for your symptoms. You can take care of this by taking 10 XXXXXXX breaths at the spot; regularly exercising and some meditation.
We could also be looking at a normal condition in which when any food or liquid hits your throat, a reflex called gag reflex is activated. This serves to close of your airway so that no food or liquid can enter you air pipe. This is a protective mechanism.
Finally, it could be gastro-esophageal reflux disease. A trial of Tablet Prevacid one tablet once daily one hour before breakfast for 1-2 weeks can be done and the improvement (if any) can be seen.
Let me know if I can address any more concerns.
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