Chiari Malformation Community
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1545021 tn?1322477485

Describe the "difficulty swallowing."

I see that "difficulty swallowing" could be a symptom of this. I would like to know what exactly this feels like? Is it like a sore throat?

I wonder because I get these feelings in my throat like someone is strangling me. It's not painful, just feels tight. And swallowing always felt weird. I wouldn't call it "difficult," just weird.

Anyone who has this symptom, can you describe what it feels like?
20 Responses
1175033 tn?1492201228
I remember when I was a little girl, I was in the car eating McDonald French fries that we had just got, and I was chewing, but it was almost like I for got how to swallow and I just couldn't do it. I spit it out eventually, and tried again and it just wasn't gonna happen I just couldn't swallow. I remember my mom freaking out, I was freaked out and don't remember much after that. I think they attributed it to the stress at that time.  I also remember choking on things frequently when I was a child but it was never thought to be anything wrong with me, as it wasn't a constant issue and it always went away.
   I have had times recently where I had the same sensation, like I forgot how to swallow and my heart skips a beat. I try to breath through my nose and try to not think about it so much, but it is hard when the food is half way down your throat, but you cant get the rest of the action to happen. Sometimes I get that back wash thing also where it goes up by my sinus area, sometime it feels like it doesnt go down the right tube, and I have to cough the liquid out.  
  I can relate to the neck too tight sensation also. When I get my blood pumping at all, it starts to feel tight but I have a narrow cervical spinal canal and a tiny neck so I attribute it to these.
I also get neck spasms, that are triggered at strange times like looking over my shoulder, yawning, or bending my head down.
I also have moments where Its like I have sleep apnea, in the daytime. I find my self needing a deep breath, then I notice myself breathing very shallow between large breaths. I get air hungry and sometime dont feel like I can get a deep breath.  I also have jaw problems and I can not open my jaw all the way, so I cant get a good proper yawn on.  

I know this is an old thread but I just wanted to leave a comment that I can soooo relate to your statements about swallowing and air hunger
620923 tn?1452915648
Hi...I think there may be several sub categories here....

Many feel like there is a lump or something obstructing food from going down.....

This is y we r told to have our thyroids checked as nodules on the thyroid may have the same sensation.

I also know some will gag when they eat certain textures....

and I also get a strange sensation...one of strangulation if I wear something close to the neck , like turtleneck sweaters....necklaces...etc...

and my favorite that has returned some what...I get a spasm in my neck when I yawn...it is a strange feeling and I feel I must stretch in order for it to release the grip it has....I really dislike all of these...and I do have thyroid nodules...and Post nasal drip so that can all add into these issues.

Even taking pills they seem to get stuck somewhere, but never go down where they should...u know?....I do not have that problem ne more....but when I was a kid swallowing pills was always diff...I had one of those contact capsules dissolve b4 I could get it down and all those little beads were floating around in my mouth...

With the loss of gag reflex I found taking pills easier....I had no idea I lost the gag reflex until I came to this forum and saw others talking about it....

Along with all these weird issues with the throat, I also had a disappearing voice when I went to sing and had a odd sensation that would overcome me...almost the same as if I would get emotional...or cry....not sure if that makes sense.

Hope this helps : )

1545021 tn?1322477485
Cool thanks!
I guess I just feel that strangulation thing. It's like pressure. I don't really choke on anything, eating is ok. I always wondered if I had thyroid problems because of the pressure I feel on my throat by my thyroid was apparently fine.
The strangulation thing comes no matter what I'm wearing. I've been ignoring this symptom for years because I couldn't understand where it was coming from. Now I wonder!
1545021 tn?1322477485
OH and that lump-in-throat feeling when you're trying not to cry you described is pretty close to what this feels like too!
1435895 tn?1304291241
I have alot of issues with difficulty swallowing.  For me if I eat small things like rice or anything with small pieces it gets stuck and "lost" if that makes sense.  Sometimes it feels as though it is going up the back of my nose. I end up coughing till it comes up, choking and gagging.  I have on occasion had a feeling like I was smothering when I was eating really soft things like mashed potatoes. At times it feels like food gets stuck substernally too.  And steak or anything like that is a big no-no.  I have found alot of liquid behind each bite and a hard swallow with my chin tilted downward helps.  

The NS seems to think this should get better after surgery.  I hope cause it stinks but proof positive you can find a way to work around almost anything.  Months into this and I havent died of starvation yet!  The first thing I want is a great big medium rare steak as soon as I can eat it.  

620923 tn?1452915648
When it comes to the thyroid...make sure  they r testing u correctly...too many times we r only  tested by our TSH....with an autoimmune thyroid issue which many of us do have we have to have our free T3 and free T4 along with TPO antibodies....and TSH.....this is the best way to know ...just TSH can appear "normal" even when it is not.

Pam- many of us have different issues with swallowing....some more sever than others...as it depends on where our herniation is pressing on nerves as to which ones r affected.

1545021 tn?1322477485
Oh great. They only did the TSH level. It was also clear on the MRI though.

Funny you mention having to press your neck to your chin to make swallowing eaiser. Pressing my chin to my neck makes my symptoms worse! Putting my head back a little makes it MUCH better.
759386 tn?1324562124
I have went through this with drinking most of the time;  I went through a period last spring of getting sick after eating or just going outside in the morning first thing.  Or even after eating supper - no warning just sick sick sick.  I am a guy by the way - so I did not have to worry about being pregnant.  ( LOL ).  

After having a flow study done, the food stayed in my throat for over 1 hour and 45 minutes then went about its merry way.  A picture show of my insides showed a small hook in my small intestines.  Eventually my being sick quit as fast as it started.  I now get sick once in a while for no apparent reason, no warning just sick sick sick.  

I can relate to what you are going through; I wish you the best of luck..  
620923 tn?1452915648
Well, if u had ur thyroid on MRI and it is clear of nodules u should be ok....but, if u had an autoimmune thyroid issue just doing TSH can come back clear when in fact there is an issue.

BTW- I forgot one other swallowing issue I had b4 surgery...when taking a drink of water from a glass I would swallow, and sit there for a while and when I would go to take another sip,. I still had water in my mouth from the last time and was unaware I did not swallow it all....this was a newer symptoms just b4 surgery and has not resurfaced....but wanted to mention that one too.
I know this is an old thread but I just wanted to leave a comment that I have had same experience with swallowing water
1435895 tn?1304291241
I have had that happen a few times too.  When it is like you forget how to swallow.  I have had to just spit food out in a napkin because it wouldnt go anywhere.  That is truly scary when that happens.  I am thankful that hasnt happened on a regular basis.  What I do now is chew everything very thoroughly, turn everything into mush before I attempt to swallow.  Takes me forever to eat now.  
1517903 tn?1329304316
I'm so glad this question is posted.  I have personally lost so much weight since I was diagnosed with chiari.  

There is something called the clivo-axial angle (the curve of your cervical vertebrae, I think) that might determine how pleasant or how horrible your eating /drinking experience is.  I don't know what it's all about.  I'm just starting to learn about this, and there wasn't a lot of info when I did my first Google.  I know I have a horrible one, and that even after surgery, it won't be normal.

Right now, my throat is constantly tight so it is hard to breathe.  Winter is miserable, because it constricts in the cold.  I have choked on food, water, and medicine many times, but that happens when you have shaky signals coming from command central--

Chiari brain during dinner:  chew...chew...(static) ...chew...(static and buildup of CSF)...what was I doing?...ch-swallow..GAG!..................EMERGENCY!.(delayed, yet well-meaning release of CSF......CHEW!).    Self-Hemleich (sp?) to the rescue.  They were noodles.  Noodles.  This was a re-enactment. Let's eat carefully. lol  
Avatar universal
I have the strangling feeling with anything too close to my throat but the choking is different. Pop will some times stick in my throat and not go down. The pain is horendous! I have to run to a sink & let it run out of my mouth. Then I will have a lot of saliva run out of my mouth. This is especially fun when you are eating with people! I think it is the carbonation in the pop that causes this. I usually have flat pop but some times I forget! Food will do the same thing. It doesn't come back up though. Just gets stuck! Causes a lot of pain until it finely goes on down. The pain comes right up my esophagus and pain radiates to my jaw and teeth.
1435895 tn?1304291241
I had another ENT get my records from all the swallowing tests, endoscopy, etc I had done to get this worked up and he called me today.  He said I am having esophageal spasms and it and the other issues with food sticking, etc could be coming from the pressure on the vagus nerve that comes from the brain stem.  He said since the attempt to stretch my esophagus didnt work that Botox maybe an option.  Has anyone else tried this?  Results?
1545021 tn?1322477485
Wow you described a lot of what I feel that I've ignored for so long. That's just crazy!
1517903 tn?1329304316
Actually, my grandmother had to have her esophagus stretched on a regular basis.  I don't remember how frequently.  She gagged a lot on her food as well and stayed away from certain textures, like tortilla chips.

I stay away from any carbonated beverage with sugar unless I have to, preferring Gingerale or Mountain Dew (necessary evil--it has caffeine!!).  When I was younger, it would always come back up.
798548 tn?1237503653
i know exactly the feeling your talking about it feels as if someone has their hands wrapped around your neck in is squeezing.  i do not choke on my food but i do have the strangle feeling a lot!

1545021 tn?1322477485
Wow yikes!
Mine isn't that bad. I don't choke on my food.
I do always end up with hiccups after every meal but I don't know if that's connected or not. I just assumed it was because I eat too fast :)  lol
Avatar universal
I feel like my meds get stuck and it seems like mostly at night ! Does anyone have this with Chiari
Hi and welcome to the Chiari forum.

Swallowing issues are common for those with Chiari.
So issues with meds would be a number one pain since we need them for pain.

It is possible to also choke on your own saliva too.....

Let your Dr know about swallowing issues. They may want to do a swallow study to see if it is a neurological issue or physical one....
Avatar universal
I've had this too often, especially in the morning (this is also a regular symptom of women in their late 40's) to the point of daughter having to do heimlich maneuver couple times, or having to throw it up as I couldn't breath. These symptoms present when eating proteins (meats, eggs).  In the morning I do mango/peach/banana (some not all at once) unsweetened protein power w coconut milk & water smoothies, cream of wheat or oatmeal ....liquid foods. Going on Acid-free diet has helped A LOT, symptoms are now at 25%. Read 'dropping acid' book.
Avatar universal
No, it's more like complete momentary paralysis of your tongue! I would call it an INABILITY to swallow. Tongue simply will not move backwards, it's terrifying!!  You can feel the spit draining downward and then eventually you start choking on air right before you go back to normal.
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