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Choking Spells while Sleeping
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Choking Spells while Sleeping

A few years back, my husband started to have choking spells in his sleep.  He would wake up late at night and not be able to breathe.  He would get out of bed and stand up and lift his arms.  It was almost as if he had fluid blocking his throat.  After a minute or two he gets his breath back and finally clears his throat.  It happens very rarely but it scares me a lot that one of these times he won't be able to recover.  I've had him go to a doctor at a sleep clinic and they can't see to find any problems.  There is definitely something wrong though and I could really use some help.  Does anyone have any suggestions at all?
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251132_tn?1198082422
It sounds like your husband may be having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  This is the back flow of stomach contents, including digestive juices, into the esophagus or food tube.  This is most commonly called acid reflux or heartburn.  Please check with your husband
8 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
I sometimes have the same. Sometimes the sinuses drain to the back of the throat causing choking.  The other option is acid reflux.  Depending on what I consumed prior to going to bed, when lying down my stomach acts like a boat on the ocean. To remedy the acid reflux, I will take Mylanta and drink warm water.  The sinuses I am still working on as I do not have any problems when I am awake.  I know for my son I keep a humidifier in his room and swab some vicks under his nose before he goes to sleep because he wakes up choking sometimes as well.
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Avatar_f_tn
I also aggree with TPHae. If you have had your husband checked for obstructive sleep apnea and that is not it... then it sounds like GERD. This stands for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease. Make sure he does not eat after 6pm so all his food has time to digest prior to laying down. If he eats a meal right before bed, the partially digested acidic food will creep back up his degestive tract. Sounds like he is a deep sleeper and doesn't wake up until the last possible second which then leads to his choking. The reason why he coughs and coughs is because he has all that "liquid food" in the back of his throat and the first thing he does upon waking is gasping for air and inhaling some of those contents into his lungs. This is called "aspiration." GERD is a medical condition. Make sure your doc is aware. Getting the appropriate medication for GERD and not eating after 6pm should do the trick!

Good luck!

~L (Reg. Respiratory Therapist)
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Avatar_n_tn
Sometimes the acid will cause a vocal cord problem similar to what you discribe have a ENT check him for vocal cord dysfuntion.
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Avatar_n_tn
hi I had exactly the same problem and it is incredibly frigtening to experience and watch I imagine. I had it everynight for several years. I had a nissan fundiplication to stop reflux and it did stop the reflux BUT did nothing for the choking episodes. Some nights I would sleep for 15 mins bfore choknig away, then get antoerh 15mins sleep. Soemtimes I'd get about 2 hours sleep. It made work difficult and genreally kept me feeling pretty bad. My doctors were no help. I'm not sure looknig back the reflux was really much a problem. Anyway for me I fluked the asnwer - the problem was post nasal drip - mucus goign down the throat. Where it came from exactly I don't know but I discovered it was a food allergy. I had been eating pasta at night a lot. When I went wheat/gluten free the prblem reduced dramatically. I would eat some pasta about 6pm and it would cause the chking problems until about 2am. if I eat normal bread it can still come back for 6 hours or more. Even a single bit of a biscuit can bring it on for 10 mins. The 2nd doc believed it was pollen allergy and used steroids & antihistamine. (He doesn't believe there is a food issue. I've given up on him.) These didn't really help much - the problem was too severe. The best result was from avoiding the food. I haven't had the problem for months now (unless I pig out on some bisuits - groan). The antihistamine DOES let me get away with small amounts of the offending foods which is good - I can almost pass for a normal person now. Things were VERY dark for a while there when these was no sign of a resolution and a doctor who thought it was in my head. I had thought life would never be normal again: I'm very happy that it is.

PS I also had a CT sinus scan to rule out that, and even the allergist put it down to pollen even after I told him there was a food component. I get annoyed paying him $250 for 15 mins for him not to listen to me - not going back to that *&*(.
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Avatar_n_tn
since my last post I've identified my allergen as corn/maize. many processed foods like pasta sauce use it as a thickener, etc. I will get tests done to see what forms are problematic, but in the meantime avoicing all forms has made life great again.
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Avatar_n_tn
For the last several years I will wake suddenly in the night and feel like I choked on something, my throat will actually have kind of a sore spot in it.  I often times I have ran to a bathroom sink or kitchen sink for water to help me before I realize what happened.  Has anyone else had this experience and what is it????
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Avatar_n_tn
hi - do you have any trouble with mucous in your throat that you notice when choking? That was my problem. I guess sleep apnea is an option - you may have stopped breathing (for a reason other than mucous) and eventually your brain sends an alarm that jolts you awake. Do you feel like you haven't been breathing when you awake? ie a headache, a feeling of needing to suck in lots of air? Does deep breathing for a minute help? Reasons for obstructuve sleep apnea that I know of could be a floppy palate that falls back and blocks your airway - normally related to age or overweightness in males. Often accompanied by bad snoring? Do you have a sore throat in the morning even if you haven't choked? Could be an indicator of more snoring than usual. I'd try to identify as many features as you can then see a doctor. Tell them how it's affecting your life and don't be fobbed off. Disrupted sleep can lead to continual tiredness and even falling asleep while driving etc. It can be more than inconvenience. good luck.
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Avatar_f_tn
Anyone know of choking and not breathing while sleeping eyes wide open and no remembrance of the episode in a ten year old girl?
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi anyone wake up choking and coughing from fluids comeing out your nose and mouth?? I get that a lot more then the acid reflex feeling. All I know is I'm tired of this.
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Avatar_m_tn
A related discussion, wakingup choking or gasping for air was started.
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Avatar_m_tn
A related discussion, Choking was started.
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