what can I do for a person choking on vomit while sleeping?
by dv82008, Aug 22, 2009
My father has extreme acid reflux, a high anal hernia (sorry for spelling ) and his flap that closes the top of the stomach so when you lay down the food doesn't come back up does not work. All this leads to my question/concern. When he lays down at night and gets into a deep sleep, his food will come back up the tube back into his mouth and he breathes the vomit into his lungs. This causes him to lose his breathe for at least 30 seconds every time and occasionally he will pass out for a few seconds. Once he comes to it takes him about 20 minutes before he is breathing like normal again. This is very scary for him and me because I live with him and every time this happens his choking wakes me up and I don't know what to do to help him breathe again. The only thing that guarantees this will not happen is if he sleeps sitting at a almost a 90 degree angle which is very uncomfortable and in turn he gets no sleep.  While he is choking I have lifted his arms as straight up as I can get them and it doesn't help. I have made him breathe in the cold air from ice in a wet rag because I heard this would help shrink something back in the lungs and it isn't helpful either. Do you have any suggestions? Have you ever even heard of this before? I am afraid that maybe one night he won't wake up and he while die from choking to death in his sleep from choking on vomit. I know I sound so uneducated and I am sorry for that, but would you please help me?
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Member Comments (7)
by fesler, Aug 23, 2009
Your father has reached a dangerous stage in the progression of his GERD. Does he sleep on pillows or with his bed on blocks so that he is at a 45 degree angle? This will help because gravity will help keep stomach contents down. You can also get one of those angled pillows, there are all kinds of things to help a person sleep in a more upright position. I went through what you are describing and putting my head  in an elevated position through the night really helped a lot. The loosing consciousness thing is very, very dangerous, and I strongly suggest that he sleep with his head elevated, the reason he is passing out is because when he is choking on the stomach contents he is not getting enough oxygen to his brain thus he looses consciousness. Have you taken him to a GI doctor yet? The hiatal hernia also is adding to the problem but surgery should be a last option. But first he has to sleep with his head elevated. Sorry I could not be of more help.
by daniebm, Dec 26, 2009
I get the very same thing...I wake up in the middle of the night choking, having aspirated vomit into my lungs. I do have acid reflux, but not very severe...or so I think...

I'm worried about getting aspiration pneumonia, or worse...dying in my sleep from aspirating stomach content into my lungs and not being able to breathe...
by selmaSBlank, Dec 28, 2009
Elevate the head of ur bed to help lessen this possibility and see ur GI dr....aspirating into ur lungs is not a good thing.....

Get the bed elevated and follow the lifestyle and diet changes in the Health Pages here on MedHelp.

by lbrannan01, Aug 23, 2012
I have been waking up in the middle of the night feeling like i am breathing threw a very small straw, i also have a very bad taste in my mouth, i have been able to control it but untill last night it was serious, i really thought i was going to die, i counldnt breath, i was scared to even try because i was getting such a small amount of air, i was in my bathroom and then i decided to learn over (face to the ground whilst standing up) and then my air was back to normal. it worked for me , i do however hope i will never have to do it again, i hope this helps someone.
by electra180, Apr 11, 2013
I find I get the same thing when I eat a few hour before going to bed I get it.  If I have eaten early like at least three hour before than there is no food that will cause anything to come up.
by kevieb, Apr 12, 2013
I think your father is a VERY strong candidate for surgery.  Yes, it should be a last option---but your father seems to be at the last option.  What is happening to him is pretty darn scary and very dangerous.   My daughter had reflux surgery when she was almost 10 months old.  She is now 9 1/2 yrs old and doing great.  I would do the surgery again in a heartbeat!!!!

I have had severe reflux for 22 years.  It has cause a secondary condition called eosinophilic esophagitis.  I am just waiting to hopefully geth the EE condition cleared up and then I am planning on having surgery for my reflux.

I quite often sleep in my recliner because of my relfux.  We have raised the head of our bed several inches, so I am able to sleep in the bed a little more often, but sometimes it is too bad and I have to sleep in the recliner, anyway.  I have woken up gasping and swallowing because reflux had come clear up to my mouth--but I have never aspirated it.

My sister had the surgery years ago when she was a young mother.

My father had the surgery last month and he will be 78 in 2 days.  He said he is able to breath so much easier now and has not needed any reflux medication since the surgery.
by Carynann, Jan 17, 2014
Has your father had a sleep study done? People who stop breathing in the night have a condition called sleep apnea. The good news is that this condition can be completely controlled by using a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure machine). It consists of a mask that covers at least the nose, which pumps air into your lungs while you sleep, keeping your air passages open and avoiding those repeated events that you've described. Millions of people use CPAPS every night. I'm one of them, and it has made an incredible difference in my quality of life. Now that my sleep is undisturbed, I have a ton more energy and can think more clearly, too! Look in your yellow pages for a sleep doctor. Don't put it off, as sleep apnea can be life threatening.