Chiari Malformation Community
Absent Gag Reflex
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Absent Gag Reflex

Just got back from my Primary Care Physician - He said I have an absent gag reflex...now that on top of imbalance, tingling sensations, burning in feet, occasional slurring of speech, weakness in legs of muscle, etc for over 11 years. I have a Chiari malformation of 5mm...So far no neurosurgeon says I need surgery (yes they are chiari specialists). I am seeking out one more opinion.

Is an absent gag reflex mean that I need surgery or does that change anything?

Ugh!!!!

so tired of no answers - thank you all for your help!
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620923_tn?1393294254
Hi...many of us do have that as well...the absence of a gag reflex.....unfortunately it is  yet another symptom...drs look at CSF blockage, and overcrowding...symptoms r looked at with the others r present.

It does appear that ur symptoms r increasing.... or being discovered...not sure which.

Sorry

"selma"
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1041839_tn?1278685446
From what i know and understand it just means your symptoms are progressing (or like selma said maybe just being found) I dont have a gag reflex either and haven't for a long time, but i didnt know i didnt have one until my NS checked it. For at least 2 years i have been cutting my food up real small, like you would for a child, because if i didnt i would choke on it especially breads and meats. I still dont have one now after surgery, but its also too soon to tell if it will be "fixed" or not, but with everything else that has gotten better with the surgery the gag reflex is the least of my worries! - Shannon
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Shanmomof3

how are you feeling after surgery? Are you noticing a decrease in symptoms already?
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Avatar_m_tn
I don't think I'm progressing - unfortunately or fortunately (I guess it depends how you look at it) I've had the same symptoms on/off for over 11 years...I do notice the gag reflex more now...But I still do gag when I brush my teeth (or should I say my tongue) yet in the office it didn't show any reflex at all...IDK? Perhaps it's just decreased...But all my other symptoms come and go with good days and bad days

Also Selma my Doctor told me recent studies are saying a lack of gag reflex may or may not be clinically significant...Do you know anything about this? He said a recent study showed almost 40% of the general population had an absence in gag reflex...Have you ever heard that before - thanks again for all your informative Chiari answers - you sure are on top of your game!
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1179332_tn?1297482590
I have absolutely no gag reflex...even when brushing my tongue...you can tickle my tonsils and I don't feel a thing. I have read the varying information on absent gag reflexes too..yet out of those 40% I haven't come across one healthy person that doesn't have one.

My NS said that an absent gag reflex is a hallmark sign of Chiari, it is actually written that way in his report. It indicates that you have cranial nerve damage. I think that they take that fact and combine it with all the other MRI findings, symptoms ect...and that all together it makes a good case. So really it is just another confirmation of what you already knew..Chiari is causing damage.

You may have had no gag reflex and not even had known about it...so it may or may not indicate that your symptoms are progressing. Do you have issues with swallowing? For me b4 I knew about the absent reflex I had a hard time making food go down and I would choke easily especially on water. Food would get stuck in my throat and stay there which could be really painful.

Carolyn
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1756321_tn?1377771734
I too have no gag reflex. I too have to chew my food excessively or i feel like i am going to choke. I also have other symptoms especially burning feet with no explanation. Interesting how you mention both!  I read an article on how to tell if nerve damage is the cause of an absent gag reflex.

"Actual damage can usually be determined by asking the patient to count to 10 immediately after rapidly swallowing 4 oz. of water. If there were bilateral sensory and/or motor deficit, one would anticipate that fluid would penetrate into the unprotected larynx, producing a "wet voice" often with choking and coughing.  The water-swallowing test is also a useful screen in detecting which patients with neurologic deficit are likely to have trouble eating (neurologic disease is more likely to affect swallowing of thin liquids, like water, than it is to affect the swallowing of pudding consistencies, which are easiest)."

I thought i would have my mother try this too as her gag reflex is normal. My voice sounded "wet" and i had to cough a bit. My mother however spoke clearly afterwards. Interesting! :)
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1823499_tn?1370093889
I have always,as long as I can remember, had trouble swallowing. Especially when I lay down. I always have to have something to drink when I eat because I choke on the smallest things. I even choke on liquid. One night after my surgery,  I took a drink of tea, when I swallowed, instead of it going down my throat, it came out my nose. Gross. I also have no gag reflex. But added to it my dr says I have a large uvula, which doesnt help. They can reove it, which im seriously considering, but scared. You think with a oversized uvula I would gag all the time. Lol
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