GERD (Acid Reflux) Community
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Avatar universal

tightness in throat, nausea, chronic feeling as though i need to gag, miserable, please help

Hi, my name is will. i am eighteen years old and in very good physical shape an otherwise very healthy, but for a long time or at least its seems like an eternity, i have had this recurrent feeling of tightness in my throat just below my jaw bones on either side of my face. It is like i have this constant need to gag, and eventually i finally do but afterwards the feeling just comes right back with no relief.

Some times if i take a sip of a drink of some sort the feeling will go away for a second, but then comes right back and i have to sip on it continuously until it eventually goes away, sometimes not for hours. Another thing that helps a little is chewing peppermint gum. But neither of these completely relieve the feeling.

I have been to many doctors. Until just recently i have referred to this feeling as nausea because it always makes me feel like i need to gag an sometimes almost vomit. Due to this i have had many GI tests done with all clean negative results. I also seemed to notice that this feeling gets worse if i lay in an inclined position such as a dentists chair. This feeling seems to be completely unrelated to anything i do. i am unsure but sometimes it seems to come a little while after i eat, and many times after i eat i will burp for hours, long deep burps.
I have seen a neurologist who diagnosed me with abdominal migraines, and i have since tried several medicines to treat this, all with no results. I have recently several days ago been diagnosed by a different doctor with gastroesophagal reflux disease.
This seemed very strange to me as the main symptom is heartburn and i very rarely get heartburn.  the day before yesterday i was prescribed prevacid solutabs that dissolve in my mouth and gas x for the burping. so far i can tell no difference whatsoever, but it has only been two days and i am going to see if they work after a couple weeks.

I have always referred to this as nausea because it makes me feel like i need to gag and vomit, so i always believed it was some sort of digestive problem as did the doctors. and recently the idea hit me that this could possibly be something wrong with my throat?

This is so miserable, it is practically ruining my life. If anyone has any suggestions as  to what is causing this, or anyone out there with the same symptoms, please comment i would greatly greatly appreciate it and thank you for taking the time to read this
73 Responses
Avatar universal
This sounds kindof-ish similar to what I have, but I only have it for a few seconds. I am 21 yrs so not much older than you, and had problems since 19 after a stomcah virus.  Mine feels more like a spasm in my throat that eventually goes up through my ears. I have a feeling mine is more indigestion related somehow. I definitely have had the feeling of gagging for no good reason, but not too often. I too have been diagnosed with "GERD" which to me is more of a symptom than a condition. I do actually have heartburn though. The truth is, almost every Digestive disease has symptoms of "GERD".
Anyway from my research in trying to figure out my own problems I've ran up on things like hiatal hernia which sounds similar to what you describe. Have you been checked for this hernia? Also, have you have your Gallbladder checked?
82861 tn?1333457511
GERD is the most likely thing to consider for your symptoms.  When the contents of your stomach reflux up your esophogus, it can hit the area at the back of your throat that prompts the gag reflex.  Hence, that gagging feeling you experience.  Reflux is worsened and becomes more noticeable when you recline - just like you mention with the dentist's chair.  Many people do experience chest pain (heartburn) with reflux, but not all.  My husband's reflux was probably present since birth, and by the time he was in high-school the nerves were so damaged he couldn't feel it any longer.  Some people just have a very weak esophogeal sphincter and it allows the stomach contents to come right back up.  If the problem is severe enough, it can be helped surgically with a procedure called a Nissen's fundoplication.  The first line of defense against reflux is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medication like nexium, prevacid or aciphex.  If one doesn't work, try the others until you are certain they won't help.

If a gastroenterologist hasn't performed an endoscopy yet, that would be a good next step to evaluate if the reflux has in any way damaged your esophogus.  You may also have an h. pylori infection that causes reflux symptoms and ulcers.  
Avatar universal
I had a virus about 6 months ago and was throwing up something awful... after that i felt the same way you are. my doctor prescribed me ranitadine 300mg (zantac) and within a few days i felt better... i never had heartburn, and she said that i might not have it, but because when i threw up, it irritated my esophagus and made it swell causing the tight feeling in my upper chest and throat. it always got worse when i layed down and in the morning it seemed like i would have a mild sore throat.  i took the ranitadine 2 hrs before i went to bed and within 3-4 days i felt so much better...
Avatar universal
thank you all very much for your comments

yes i have had an endoscopy, barium swallow, ultrasound, and gallbladder function test thing which all had negative results. no ulcers, but i havent had a test for the h. pylori infection so i may look into that.

jaybay: when i was just a baby my parents told me that i had very bad reflux and many times had to sit up all night with me in a chair holding me straight up to keep my food from coming back up...so i do have a history of reflux and now that you mention it i guess its possible that there could be damage to my esophagus..Now though i dont ever have food actually come up, just the weird tightness and gagging feeling..

that does make sense how you said the contents of my stomach being refluxed could trigger the gag reflex though..I just cant seem to point out what is causing the tightness feeling below my jaw bones. any ideas? thank yall a lot any information really helps
Avatar universal
try the Scenar device.
82861 tn?1333457511
You sound a lot like my husband.  After years of reflux, the tissues and nerves in the esophogus basically get burned up, so you don't feel the intense pain of heartburn.  People who only get reflux once in a while notice it in a large way because all the tissues and nerves are undamaged.

If the prevacid doesn't help, make sure you tell your doctor because there are a few other drugs of the same type (PPI) that might work better for you.  The only one that helps my husband is Aciphex.  Also, you might ask your doctor if reglan might help.  Reglan is a nausea medication that works by increasing peristalsis and hurrying whatever is in your stomach along its way.  If stuff isn't in your stomach, it can't very well come back up, right?
Avatar universal
will. i have the very similar symptoms. im 22 yrs old. & i have the worst problem with..just not gagging. i gag anywhere from 10 to 100 times a day. & when ever i tell doctors this..they kind of shrug it off & start asking me about stress & stomach acid & all that stuff. i do have bad heartburn but im not sure if theyre related..from my research i either have a hernia or an ulcer...but nothing really emphasizes on the gagging as much as i feel...its terreible...i constantly have to have a drink & usually still gag. its worse in the morning. or when i havent eaten...also sometimes if ive eaten a lot....dairy & sweet foods cause it too...docors seem to be stumped...one thing thats helped me...is sit ups trying to raise my endorphins...its kind of a wierd treatment...but ill seriously do anytihng to stop my gagging. & doctors are basically stumped when i tell them..that gagging is the main problem ..its embarassing & i also feel like im losing brain cells everytime i do it...the gags are so violent. anyway...good luck & if anything works for you pleeaaasse let me know...thank you

Avatar universal
Do any of you have nausea and coughing fits with the gagging?  
Avatar universal
I often have many of the same symptoms described here...My gagging issue happens most frequently in the morning and usually gets better as the day progresses...however sometimes it is constant all day.   For many years I was able to limit it to just gagging, but lately it has turned to actual "dry heaving" and vomiting which is very strainful on the body.  I have also had all of the tests and have been diagnosed with GERD and IBS...Also, when I gag, I often have a lot of mucus that literally just "flies" out of my throat.  This is a very bothersome condition because it makes you feel like you can't have a "normal life".

Lately I've been focused on trying to control my diet, I'm now thinking maybe it's related to the overall health of the colon...Maybe its all the toxins in my gut that are causing this (???)  I'm also considering doing a colon cleanse to see if it makes any difference...In addition, I often wonder if this is all just related to excessive gas buildup...sometimes the gagging sensation in my throat is helped somewhat by anti-gas drugs....

Anyway…I definitely don’t have any answers and I’m suffering every day just like you folks…
Avatar universal
My nephew has had a terrible time with  gagging.  He has to constantly suck on cough drops to control it.  The Doctors currently have him on meds but they aren't helping.  He was diagnosed with Crohns Disease 2 yrs ago and has been on Asical since then.  Could a side-effect of it be gagging?  Any suggestions
Avatar universal
My son has the same problem as you do.  It's tough for all of us because we can't go and eat anywhere, we have to stay close to home all of the time because of his gagging/vomitting problems.  It's the worst in the morning, but it happens all day.  We used to go out to restaurants to eat, but can not do that anymore because he usually vomits everywhere.  Sometimes making it to the bathroom, sometimes not.  I've been researching this for a number of years, and we've seen may specialists.  I'm wondering if you've heard of over sized turbinates? (nasal concha)  It is when they hang back into your throat farther tahn normal, pressing down into the nasopharynx and soft palate, restricting airflow and triggering the gag reflex.  Let me know...
Avatar universal
I have the same conditions as will3447 to the same degree.  I feel ill today.  I'm in Vegas, and its unusually humid, and I didn't sleep well. Its not one thing causing my conditions.  I was treated for rephlux brought on by stress, but the gagging first started when I moved to a house with large oak trees.  I later found out I was allergic to oak, but the symptoms persisted as I continued to be exposed to the allergens.

This was in Florida.  I found myself allergic to more things in Vegas (mulberry and olive trees are the worst offenders here), and now get anti-allergen injection therapy and use anti-histamines (NOT decongestants. They should only be used when you need to get clear.  Anti-histamines should be taken throughout allergy season even when sinuses are blocked.  Decongestants usually have a "D" in the brand name, and make you speedy, while AHs will not.). I'd be willing to bet that Will has allergies that stress out his system and bring on acid rephlux.  Big advice - DO NOT DRINK, especially to the point of intoxication. Severely aggravates the symptoms.

If you live in a part of the country that has major allergy conditions, changes are that's what it is. Living near the ocean is best, as it acts like a giant filter for pollen, et al.  But it definitely erodes quality of life. I used to be 100 percent healthy and in top shape, but half the time I have to cut my workouts short. Exertions like weight lifting can be hard. There are a lot more people worse off than you, but since this isn't something people can notice like a cold or a handicap you don't get cut much slack. Acidic foods like hot coffee and onions should be avoided. I sure do miss hot peppers, but I hate gagging more.

BTW - I have trouble at dental appts.  My dentist insisted it was all in my mind at first but I couldn't get through a checkup.  INSIST that they give you novocain for even minor procedures. Its the only way I got my last two fillings.  The dentist even missed a cavity at first because I couldn't make it through all of my x-rays.

Good luck. Its not in your mind whatsoever, and there's no one cause. Marijuana cures the gagging within seconds, but the danger of dependency is amplified due to the psychological association with relief. Still, it beats being sick all the time.
Avatar universal
After another morning of "I've got my gagging thing again' I told my son we would get up and look this thing up together on the internet.  I am already feeling much better just knowing he isn't alone, as I hadn't heard of anyone else with his problems.

My son is 9 and he has seemingly endured this condition his whole life.  I used to think it was due to difficulties during birth (he had oxygen deprevation resulting in a hearing loss, eye squint and general muscle laxness).  But as his health is generally good (apart from being a little overweight) this seems to be the only continuing problem.

He wakes up with a strong gag reflux, but he can also get this during the day.  It can be triggered by a strong or bad smell ('morning breath', country/farm smells, airplane toilet, even bad school lunches!) but he can even wake up with this even without a trigger.  He has mucous and sometimes needs to just spit it out but it often results in him gagging/vomiting.  

In fact, I just took 10 minutes away from typing this because he had a small drink and it just came back up so I had some mopping to do...

Have you had this since you were little?  He's had no major sickness that I can attribute this to, and wonder if it's the same as you?  What do you recommend to my boy?  And is the medicne working yet?

Please help a worried 9 year old and his parents!  Thanks
Avatar universal
hey sweetie - have you considered it to be from a nervous ailment?  years ago, during a very emotional time of my life, my throat got tight, i gagged a LOT, and i lost a lot of weight.  the doctor said my throat muscles were all tensed up, etc., because of my emotional state.

i few weeks later, and some anti-anxiety meds, it was gone.  

something to consider.
Avatar universal
I think I have what Will3477 describes.  There is a tightness under my jaw - almost like I've been chewing too much or something.  There is also this sensation of something at the back of my throat that makes me want to gag.  I have to swallow hard to make it go away and sometimes I feel like that feeling might be mucus piling up back there.  The other day, however, I realized that it sort of feels like that lump in throat you get when you're about to cry.  That sort of "full throat" feeling.  I started Googling that and I came up with this article.  I think it does the best job yet at describing the symptoms.  I just don't know if there is a chronic version of this or not:


I'd love to know what the community thinks.
Avatar universal
Wow everyone was starting to tell me I was crazy and making it up. Glad to see there is an army of gaggers! :)  I have the tight throat almost 100% of the day. I notice that if i am chewing it does not bug me as much. But I spend so much time awake ready to vomit that it disgusts me. I would like to believe it was something simple but it doesn't seem like there is much luck. I never throw up I just feel the tightness like I might gag. I am not much of a vomiter but for the past year I have slept either in the shower or with a bucket next to my bed. There is no exaggeration.

I have been told it is all in my head by my grumpy hubby but I know better. I also have been to the doctor (military doctor that is) and I was told it was acid reflux. I was prescibed medicine and tried to take it but it only gave me symptoms of acid reflux which I was not having. I don't have an acidic flavor and I have zero heartburn. Shoot my throat feels so tight I fear burping because I assume that I will vomit next.

So... tonight is one of those nights where the rest of the world sleeps and I stay up pacing questioning if this is forever.
Avatar universal
It feels so good knowing I am one of many with these ridiculous stomach issues and whatever comes along with it. My story is kind of funny..in a bad way. I never used to have any sort of stomach problem until last year when I was having these weird head aches for a good month. After a week of them I went to a neurologist and he told me I had something called brisilar migraines. He perscribed me prednisone which is a steroid and told me to take three pills of motrin to take the pain away. Yeah well...you arent really supposed to mix the two and I did because this awesome doctor told me I could before even knowing my background or really anything about me.
Felt like my stomach was tearing into pieces for days. Finally got it checked and what do you know?! I have gastrits.
I was on prevacid. It didn't work.
I was on nexium. It costs 300. So that ended real quick.
Months and months later with little relief, I was nauseous everyday. Especially in my throat. That was the WORST.
Got that checked and I developed inflammation in my stomach. Took protonix. That took away the inflammation and made my nausea somewhat better but when I was finished taking it, it came back.
Now I am told to go to a psychiatrist, so I am going to go to one and see what she/he says.
The moral of this story is, doctors and medicine are ******** :)

Avatar universal
I have had the same kinds of problems for years now; i am 20.  Since i was a junior in high school (16) it started.  I never used to have them before, and i used to eat everything al the time then i got some sort of infection but didn't go to the doctor.  The infection made my lymph nodes in my neck swell up and the spit gland thing under my tongue very sore.  After about a week or two these symptoms went away but then i had this almost uncontrollable gag refelx.  It used to happen whenever i tried to eat something, for some reason putting anything in my mouth triggered it.  I lost a lot of weight and still now i consider myself to be under weight at 5'9 and like 135 pounds.  I do look very skinny still just not crazy skinny as i over the years i have learned to control it enough to eat enough to keep me going, just not enough to ever gain more weight.  I feel anxiety about eating all the time and even after cause i don't know if i will have a hard gag and semi vomit if i can't control it.  I have been to a few doctors who just say its reflux but prilosec doesn't help much.  It pretty much keeps my life at a standstill cause im afraid to go far from my comfort zone if i can't eat some food cause itll make me gag or what.  It does help to know there are other people with some weird gagging issue, as it reassures me im not crazy, but i just wish it would go away.  Being calm seems to help a lot but it doesn't fix the problem.  I really have wondered if its an anxiety disorder but am afraid to ask anyone cause its so embarassing.
Avatar universal
Does anyone know of any new meds to fix this problem?  It is so frustrating.  I can understand the person that wrote about sleeping with a bucket next to the bed.  I keep one on the passenger seat of my car too.
Avatar universal
Im 18, and I woke up this morning round my boyfriends and my throat felt so weird as if something was stuck in there. I then went home and had a little sleep and thought it would be gone by the time i woke up. So i started walking to work and it was exactly the same... it's not that bad when i eat but i feel like i have got to drink every 2 seconds or i will gag. It is so annoying, i just want it to go away!

i didnt know it could last forever, seeing all you's saying your had it for years. looks like i will be sleeping with a bucket tonight! i am supposed to be going out tomorrow night for Nandos with my best mate!

someone help, i dont know what to do!

I havent been to the doctors yet BTW.

Zoe    x

Avatar universal
I am 19 years old male, and got recurrent gag reflux lasting for more than 5 hours, I am constantly trying to sustain calm and suppress it somehow but its awful anyway. I had very bad stomach condition 5 months ago. It was CMV and it destroyed me totally. It destroyed my stomach and also my mental state. I was nauseous then 24/7. It was horrible. Now I have this gag reflux for no reason (I am not feeling nauseous though), and also when I am trying to work or do something its getting worse.

I do not feel heartburn when I have this feeling, (when I have acids in my throat I feel them) in this case I do not feel them, drinking Reglan doesn't make it better though.

CMV anti-bodes are just present in my body (which means my organism killed it).

Please help.
Avatar universal
Something for you to research.  There is a condition called Vocal Cord Dysfunction.  This condition can be triggered by many things, one of which is acid reflux.  As many posters have said, you don't have to have heart burn to have acid reflux.  there is a type of acid reflux called laryngeal-pharyngeal reflux (LPR) in which the acid shoots through the esophagus quickly and settles in the back of the throat and or sinuses.  It can then cause irritation of the vocal cords, be aspirated and cause other respiratory issues.

VCD is a condition in which the vocal cords spasm and can feel like tightness in your throat like described by many of you.  I just wanted to suggest that as a possibility.  This is best diagnosed by an ENT with a scope, but a negative scope is meaningless becasue the vocal cords would have to be in spasm during the test to be positive.  This condition is treated by controlling the trigger and speech therapy.  There are breathing techniques to help control the spasms that you might be able to find on line.

I hope you all get some answers.  You sound miserable.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the post. I got myself on endoscope but the doctor can't see my vocal cords because of the damn gag reflex, I gagged ten times, still he can't see good my vocal cords. He believes that its acid reflux, cause there was nothing in my throat which could cause swollen feeling in my throat.

Actually I am suppressing the feeling that I need to gag, but sometimes it becomes miserable and I gag and then no relieve, it seems like I need to gag again. This feeling that I need to gag all the time is so bad that I didn't go on my exams and take some time to rest. Seems like for 1 week I didn't have the gag reflex, not for this week it is again present, constant feeling that I need to gag, but it is possible that I would not gag even once in the day (because I am controlling it with my tongue).
Avatar universal
I have been having dry heaves and gagging for 10 years now, it is miserable.   I tried Lunesta for sleeping and It really helped with the gagging.  I researched the side effects and hiccups is one of them so I think there might be some connection there with the gagging.  Now I'm taking lunesta for its side effects.  The down side is, this drug is expensive.  My experience with doctors was a blank stare.  I think med school should be a lot longer than 4 years.  I haven't gotten any answers from any of the 10 doctors I saw, but I got a bill from every one of them.
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