I've been having a situation occur for about two years now off and on. Out of nowhere, I will sudden breathe down a bit of my saliva, causing me to start to cough, but my throat constricts immediately and I do this long awful gasp, trying to catch my breath, then I cough and cough and cough until it finally clears. It's pretty embarrassing in public because it sounds like I need the Heimlich done or something. Also twice in the last week I've started to drink water, get a mouthful, and then suddenly I aspirate some of the water or saliva and spit the water all over the place, coughing and doing the long loud gasp or two. What could be causing this?
The cause of your saliva entering your trachea, which is the main breathing tube of the upper airway, may be a form of hiccup but this would be unusual given that most hiccups are not associated with aspiration, except during general anesthesia. More likely is that: 1) you are having silent gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is acid reflux from your stomach; or 2) that you have developed some type of swallowing disorder. This is a potentially serious, usually neurological, condition, for should it occur when you have food in your mouth, you could aspirate that as well.
I suggest that you consult with your doctor and then with a gastroenterologist who will be able to directly observe your larynx and esophagus, check to see if you have acid reflux and order and interpret a radiologic swallowing study.
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