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Why do I wake up gasping for air, as if breathing through a straw?
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Why do I wake up gasping for air, as if breathing through a straw?

For the past few years, and once or twice per year, I will wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air, not able to inhale. It feels sort of like I'm choking on some inhaled saliva or something and like I'm trying to breath through a straw. After about 20 or 30 seconds it slowly lets up until I can breath normally again.
   This past week I have had two of these incidents. It scares me. Is this something I should be worried about. What causes it, and should I see a doctor about it?
   I've never had any problems like asthma or been on any kind of medication. I do not smoke, drink, or do drugs.
   I'd appreciate any advice and information about it.
Thanks, Mike
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You may be experiencing aspiration, either from post-nasal drip or from gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD).  Please check with your doctor to determine if either of these conditions is a problem for you.  Post-nasal drip can often be controlled with nasal washes, decongestants, and/or an inhaled nasal steroid.  GERD can often be controlled by avoiding food and drink 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, elevating the head of the bed 6 to 8 inches, and/or medications.
Another possibility is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  Common signs of OSA are loud snoring and lapses in breathing during sleep.  Please check with your doctor to see if a sleep study is needed.
5 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
YOU MAY BE SUFFERING FROM SLEEP APNEA .  I HAVE IT AND I HAVE THE SAME SYMPTOMS.  SEE A NEUROLOGIST.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have done that same thing at night.  It's very scary.  I'd like to know what causes it too.  I thought I was just getting strangled on my saliva in my sleep.
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Avatar_n_tn
I agree with EVERYTHING the National Jewish Hospital Nurse said to you!

Definitely see an expert doc (or docs) about your symptoms!

If you can't go to National Jewish Hospital, call their toll free LUNG LINE at 1-800-222-LUNG (5864), and ask the LUNG LINE nurse which docs were trained at Nat'l Jewish Hospital, and are currently in YOUR AREA!!!

My husband and I were each diagnosed at Nat'l Jewish Hospital, as having VCD (Vocal Cord Dysfunction). Nat'l Jewish Hospital knows the most about VCD. VCD is often MISDIAGANOSED as being asthma, anaphylaxis (severe allergy causing swelling in throat area, can be fatal if untreated), and hysteria.

People can have VCD and OTHER CONDITIONS at the same time. That's why you do need to get medically checked, so you can correct all your medical problems.

Gastric reflux, sinus conditions, indoor air pollution, neck muscle tension, sleep apnea, and MANY other factors can cause or trigger VCD attacks.

Many VCD patients feel the "breathing through a straw" symptom, but there are other possible symptoms as well.

Make those doctor appointments now, and also, take a look at my website called "Can't Breathe? Suspect Vocal Cord Dysfunction!" Here's a link to the home page. It may give you some food for thought.

http://cantbreathesuspectvcd.com

I link to the National Jewish Hospital website, and to other useful sites. I include References (medical journal articles, books, etc.)

I hope you feel better soon!

Sincerely, Carol

***@****     or  ***@****

By the way, my nickname "Wondering about symptoms" should be changed to " Now fixing up my bad computer & driving ergonomics, to prevent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome"
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey Mikey I can tell you it is scary to wake up  trying to gasp for air. I live in Canada and had the same stmptons for about five years. I went to a few Dr's and they kept saying it was my asthma. Finally after talking to a pharmasist at the drug store he suggested I raise the head of my bed up about 8" and I had the best sleep in days or weeks.I went back to my doctor and told him and he said I now have Reflux a type of acid coming up while I sleep. Hopfully this will help.
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Avatar_n_tn
A related discussion, gasping for air was started.
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Avatar_f_tn
Randomly I have choked on my own saliva while awake. I can breath for seconds tring to get air. What do I do when this happens? My husband was scared and wanted to start the abdominal thrust. Will it just go way if I relax? It is scary and has only happened a couple of times.
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