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aspirating on saliva
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aspirating on saliva

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?
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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.

Good luck.
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