Avatar universal

gagging attacks, starts to dry heave

My husband suffers from gagging attacks, and then he starts to dry heave and/or choke and cough.   It's not accompinied by nause however he will gag so hard that he will vomit up some phlem.  This happens every day, some times several times a day, every time he takes a shower, once in a while while he is sleeping, some times in the morning, some times in the evening, some times outside, some times inside, while he is driving.  In other words I happens just about any time.  Does not weem to be related to eating, what he eats, what time he eats, or how much he eats.

He has been doing this for 5 years.  He has had an upper GI, X-rays, blood work, been on Prilosec, gargles salt water.  And still he does this every day.  It last for any where from 1 minute to 3 minutes.  The ear, nose and mouth specielist say there is no anotomical reason for this to be happening.  The Prilosec have no effect on the severity or the frequency of the gagging and dry heaving.

Any ideas where to go or what to do?
60 Responses
Avatar universal
I just found this website tonight, although I've periodically searched the net for answers to this problem. I tried to post in another thread, but I guess it had been maxed out. I can't believe how many people have this problem. I have suffered from it for over 8 years now. I notice most people have said they believe it to be an anxiety disorder, because it only seems to happen to them when they are nervous or stressed about something. My case is more severe though, because although I do get the attacks when I am nervous or stressed, that is not the only time. Whenever I do any form of physical activity, as simple as walking, these attacks happen. They also happen when I brush my teeth, take a shower, when I'm extremely exhausted or sleepy, sometimes when I'm very hungry, and when I've overused my vocal cords; meaning when I've done too much talking or singing. There is no rhyme or reason to these attacks, and they completely interfere with my life. I cannot do things like normal people can. Although I have found that drinking soda, or chewing gum can sometimes help alleviate my symptoms, it's not a cure. I need a cure. I've been  with this problem for too long, and am fed up with it. I've been to all kinds of doctors and specialists, have had all kinds of tests done on me, and no one can find a thing. I can no longer work due to it. There was a time when these attacks were fewer and more managable, but in the last couple of years, they have gotten worse. I had to go on medical leave from my job, and just recently, I had to quit, because there was no way I could return to my duties. Now I am without income, and have been denied disability. I am still waiting on word of my appeal, but I am not optimistic it will be accepted. I am at my wits end, because my life has become a living hell, and I have no idea how to fix it. If anyone can offer me any answers, I'd surely appreciate it.
You have a severe case of anxiety. I have went through the same thing in 2001 and it lasted for months and wouldn't go away. I had every medical test done that you could think off and it was all normal. It eventually got so bad that I had to be committed to a physiciatric hospital for 4 months. It then went away and came back 13 years later and its to the point that I might have to go back into hospital for help again. You might have to seek hospitalization in order for it to go away.
Avatar universal
i have the exact same problem...at times it has been so bad that i have considered killing myself..it is truly miserable..i wish you the best and hope somebody out there somewhere finds some answers. i will pray for you all..God can work miracles..give him a shot, hes the only reason i havent blown my head off because of this.
Avatar universal
I have this same problem every single morning I wake up with massive anxiety attacks, excessive coughing leading to me gagging.  I have diarrea every morning. Also have diarrea 4-5 times a day. I can't even hold a job right now cause the anxiety has taken over my life.  I wish there was a cure cause for me its really bad right now.  I've been struggling with this for the last 5 years.  I went though some major sorrow in my life about 6 years ago and since then this has been happening.  If anybody knows how to fix this problem please let me know
have you been tested for celiac disease?  I have that and the issue with diarrhea if I eat gluten.  it's an autoimmune disease and very debilitating...can be triggered by a trauma or traumatic event from what Understand....
Avatar universal
I have suffered with these attacks since I was approx 13 years old and now I'm 25. These gagging attacks ARE an anxiety thing and certainly with me, I know this is the case, I know full well they are psychological and not physical. Basically, what happens, is you get yourself into a 'state' of telling yourself that 'it is going to happen, so I might as well go along with it.' It almost becomes an addiction (as strange as that sounds!) I hate doing it, but it almost miss it when it's not there as it has become part of my life! However, it is curable and when I get stressed, it happens, and when I'm ready to tackle it, I can stop it!! It is a mind over matter thing! I bet just before it happens, you are all either thinking of things that make you gag, or you are working yourself up into heavy breathing panic state thinking 'oh my god here it comes again!' and then I sometimes start crying thinking 'why me!' I also find if I'm tired of feel ill it happens.

It is mind over matter and you CAN cure yourself. You need to start telling yourself, so what if it happens - big deal, It doesn't kill me and it certainly won't harm me. Once you learn to accept that this is not life threatening and you won't die from it, you then need to try and see it as an annoying little child pulling at your trousers looking for attention. It makes you think' WHAT, What do you want?'  it irritates you! and that's how you need to see this! It is nothing more than an annoying child pulling at your trousers looking for attention - well guess what, you're not going to give it that attention - you are going to ignore it and tell it to go away. Get angry with it - i mean REALLY angry with it. Shout out if you want whilst thinking it. Then you need to lift your head up high (not hunched over like you do when you get these attacks - and I know you do!!)

These attacks are like a bully and you cannot be the victim anymore - you need to stand up to this bully and don't take it anymore!!!

It isn't easy and it is hard, and yes at times, you will relapse, but you must keep on. You also need to occupy your mind - sitting around thinking about gagging will make you gag! and stop associating 'parts of your life' to it! So what if you USE to get them when you took a shower, or so what if you use to get them at work NO LONGER. This is a new you and you will no take this anymore. It's your life - you control it!! Take a radio into the shower with you to listen to and sing along! etc...

Believe me, yes, I get them when I'm stresses, but they are on and off cuz I know HOW to get rid of them. But it is a bit like stopping smoking, or loosing weight, You will never get rid of this demon unless you are totally ready to.

I don't mean to come across as aggressive or anything, but I just know how you ALL feel, and if I can help at all, I am happy to be in touch and help you. You can be free of this!

Love to all,
Dawn R
Avatar universal
I am suffering from the same problem. It started about 3 years ago when I was living in Kenya, went away for a while and now it's back.  I've wondered if it's from some sort of left over bacteria in my gut? But I have no idea. I'm going to the doctor this morning again because the sample she gave me last week hasn't done a thing.   My gagging is usually followed by gassy burps-- GROSS!

The psychological thing kinda makes sense. Sometimes when I feel one coming I try to refocus my attention on something else in my mind and it will subside a bit, but there are other times when it just comes out of no where-- like when I'm brushing my teeth or opening the fridge! Doesn't make sense.  

A friend told me yesterday to try seeing a  chiropractor who uses some natural healing techniques. She said he deals with this kind of stuff a lot. So I might try him if my visit to the regular doctor doesn't work out today.
Avatar universal
I also have this same problem and wish some doctors could find a cure for it. I know that anxiety can cause this but the feeling is very real and sometimes scary when Doctors really do not know what is really causing it. It really affects your life.
Avatar universal
i have been suffering from this since i was 3 or 4. i am now 28. i dont know after all these years what or why. its caused anxiety, depression, and all sorts of traumatic problems through out my life. every school grade was a nightmare. i have no idea what to say or do, everyday is a fight, although, i think i hide it well. suicide has crossed the mind several times in my life, but i love my family, my wife and friends too much. i am not a suicidal person, but sometimes these attacks make things so hard.
Avatar universal
i have also been having a coughing and gagging problem. I had a video swallow scan done and was found that I am aspirating on my saliva and thin liquids. instead of stuff going down my espogus(food tube)  it is touching my vocal cords and irritating them. Hince causing me to cough.
Avatar universal
Wow, I have been suffering from this problem on and off for most of my life. In the past 2 years, it has come back quite heavily. When I am getting ready for work every morning, I have to gag. Its terrible. I can't leave my house without gagging. Lately it has been happening now when I get nervous or something, so I thought it could be an anxiety issue. I have asked several doctors about it, and more recently have been seeing a therapist. No one can really diagnose this problem, but it definitely is a mental issue and not physical. I have not yet been able to stop these gagging attacks, but hopefully they will subside at some future point. I have been researching this heavily, and this is the first time I've come across a thread where people are actually experiencing the same symptoms as me.
Avatar universal
i just recently started to have these gagging attacks. like in the past couple weeks it has started. i have not yet gona to the doctor because i thought maybe i had like a stomach virus. but it has been going on everyday, quite a few times a day. while im cleanning, working, driving, or even if i look at food.Im a hairstylist and i dont wanna keep gagging when im working on my clients. its really aggrivating. what should i do?
Avatar universal
this may seem ridiculous, but i've been sick with a wicked stomach flu these past few days, and i've been burping/gagging like crazy.

my stomach felt really full even though i've gone all night without food, and i was burping and tasting food from like, 20 hours ago. my logic, start knockin' back the metamucil. it seems to be helping, it was if my digestive system just decided to stop functioning. i have no idea if this will help anyone, but it's helped me with the gagging. I wish the best to anyone who suffers from this chronically.
Avatar universal
Wow.  I thought I was the only one suffering from this.  It started when I was about 21yo and I am now 50.  When things go well in my life it really doesn't happen much, but I when I get nervous it woud happen and I would gag and then get on with my life.  Now, it happens when I have to drive, go for an interview, be in a crowd, etc. I am thinking anxiety, phobia, etc. I don't know.  It's becoming crippling in my life.   I don't know how to cope with it anymore.  It just is happening every day all the time now.   Help!
Avatar universal
Well, I started this topic.  And we now have an answer for what it is called... severe tertiary spasms.  My husband fell off his tank trailer and broke his back.  He was sent to the Wesley Trauma Center in Wichita, KS.  During his recover post surgery, he of course has several episodes.  The doctors and nursing staff could not ignore it because it got so bad that he could barely swallow even water and the episodes were coming at a rate of 3 to 4 a day.  So they scoped him for motility and discovered that he has severe tertiary spasms, which does now allow even his own spit to be swallowed in one fluid muscle contraction.  What happens is the esophagus in his case contracts randomly and not top to bottom.  This traps spit and causes the dry heaving.  The unfortunate news is that there is not a cure for this.  However, they can and did go back in and dilate his esophagus so that he could swallow his spit better.  So the dry heaving is better for now but not gone.  They told us he could have the dilation done again as he needs it.  I hope this helps some of you to at least know the medical term for this condition.  IF you want the GI doctors name in Wichita, KS that we are dealing with, just contact me and I will email you his information.  Here is a link to more information:


Avatar universal
I googled this site to make sure I wasn't imagining what was going on. This morning I started gagging. This isn't the first time. I tried drinking water, brushing my teeth, going to the bathroom. None of it worked. I did not gag so hard I threw up though, just enough to make my eyes real red and watery. I have a cockroach infestation in my home, and I've always thought I woke up gagging because one had crawled down my throught (I've had one crawl in my ear before, who knows). Also, I have pinworms..I'm not sure if that has something to do with it but they always appear the night before this happens. I'm too afraid to tell me parents any of this. Wish there was an answer for all of us.
Avatar universal
OMG.  Everytime I tell a doctor about this they tell me they've NEVER heard of this.
I've been dry heaving violently nearly every morning for ELEVEN years.  Generally when I drink some water I can get it under control in enough time for me to eat something - which seems to help.  It will sporadically come back during the day - but generally in the a.m. hours.  I keep a bottle of water with me everywhere I go because that helps.
I have a feeling - don't know why - that it's related to an adrenal disorder....???

Has anyone found anything concrete?  I see in th post above someone broke their back - but I didn't break my back.  Mine began 11 years ago when I started on birth control - which I quit immediately because along with the dry heaving came SEVERE hypoglycemic symptoms and other issues.  The dry heaving has never gone away.  I also bruise very easily, have battle chronic fatigue and chemical sensitivies.  Any REAL help would be greatly appreciated.
Avatar universal
I have been suffering from this same thing since I can't remember when. I am now 45 and it has become part of my life. It isn't every day that it happens, but it does happen a lot. Sometime two to three times a day. Sometimes not for a couple of weeks.

It is extremely embarassing when it happens in public and very dangerous when if it happens while I am driving.

I am keeping it real so we can possibly work out a viable solution to this.

Let me give you some history about myself to see if there might be any commonalities:

I am a gay male. I am HIV negative. I have chronic Hepatitis B (7 or 8 years now). I take meds for depression and cholesteral. I also take 1200mg of Ibuprofen every day for arthitis pain. I do use soft drugs on occasion (pot, X) but I am not an addict. I do smoke cigs occasionally (maybe 10 a week).

Some of the things I have noticed that can set it off or make it worse are: to much caffeine, sugary drinks (think daquaries), chocolate (maybe the caffine in it)  or too much cigarette smoke. It can also happen if i take X. Also.

I can not wear anything around my neck because that will set it off (no jewelry, no t-shirts unless they are v-neck or I have stretched out the neck, deffinately no turtlenecks, no ties, etc.)

I have found that at times it is caused by anxiety. I tend to start gagging on a morning where I will be traveling or doing something out of the ordinary that makes me nervouse. I have a prescription for zanex, and that tends to help some when the anxiety kicks in.

I have tried several things but nothing seems to work completely. I do feel better if I feel an attack coming on and I help get it out quicker by  cupping my hand around the front of my neck. This makes me gag immensly and I will cough up a lot of phlem. After that it is gone (sometimes for just a couple of hours or a few days). Not a cure, but it helps. Smoking pot will also tend to suppress it. Drinking alchohol also surpresses it (seems that most of the things that can stop it are not so great for me).

Like everyone else, my doctor is clueless on this. I have thought of trying Hypnothereapy. Has anybody tried this route?

I know this is a long post, but hopefully this info will help find an answer.
Avatar universal
I've had these exact symptoms minus the coughing. It happens 2-3 times a day. Sometimes goes away for a few days or a week and even sometimes longer. I don't believe it to be anxiety related even a little bit. The reason I believe it has nothing to do with anxiety is because it's never happened to me when I was stressed, nervous or anything of the sort. I've tested the theory of it happening while nervous, stressed or so on, never does.

Until I fairly recently started researching about it I've always felt it was completely random. All of these symptoms can be caused by TWO different things. Which I believe could possibly be some of your causes.

1.) Dehydration
2.) Lactose Intolerance

In my case I am not sure which it is. It happens sometimes after I eat/drink anything with lactose. Then again it also feels/seems at times that it might be because I'm dehydrated from not drinking enough water, fluids AND being physically active the day the problem arises. It's even possible it could be both, of course that's not as likely as it just being one of them. Reading all of your posts makes me believe some of you might have  different causes than others. Goodluck all.
Avatar universal
I left out that this has been happening to me for 2-3 years and a lot. It is rare when I get a break from it. It seems it has been slowly getting worse. In my case, I'm 100% sure that it is something physical.
Avatar universal
Please post your question as its own post because this one is so old.
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
This post is almost 3 years old and usually people don't answer/look at these posts anymore because of this.  If you had any questions that you wanted answered by the people on the forum I recommend, for your sake, that you post your question as a post of its own.  If you don't want to, you don't have to though.
Avatar universal
I too have had this problem. I gag for no reason at all. First thing in the morning, showering, walking, even now while I'm typing this. I've been having this problem since I was about 13 or so.. I'm 20 almost 21 now sooo around 6 or 7 years this has been gong on. I thought i was the only one that this was happening to.. so I didn't bother to say anything about it  or even research it on the net.

The past.. year or so.. its been getting worse. I am now finding myself gagging (no exaggeration) at least 400 (if not more) times a day. I've been able to find ways to cover it up or hide it.. which all of my friends know i am a very random and spontaneous person so any act of weirdness i throw out there will cover up my gagging and my friends don't think twice about it. It's becoming harder and harder to cover up though. It's becoming exhausting just to deal with it anymore. Its completely taking over my life...
Avatar universal
Hang in there. I am 46 and thought the same thing you did. I have found that certain things do make it worse:

Alcohol (the next day, not a hang over)

It has started to come and go. I haven't really had any bad attacks in awhile, but I have had horrible ones in the past, usually first thing in the morning. I have found that Zanax helps me which tends to make me think it is an anxiety issue.

Try cutting items out to see if it helps, (i.e. what I listed, for me). Do it in a methodical way, so that you know if it was that particular item that caused it. For me, when I quite drinking, it practically went away, but if I do go out and drink, I know it will be back usually the next morning and will last for a few days.

Good Luck. Keep us updated on how you are doing.
Avatar universal
I too have the gaging/coughing/dry heave issue.  I remeber hearing my dad before he left for work in the moring gag just the same (it may be genetic).  I have a theory; deficiencies in minerals such as magnesium and potassium results in a variety of symptoms, including anxiety.  Unless you are considering diet this will not go away.  Something that takes the gaging and all those symptoms away is Marajuana, if you don't beleive me and want to do it legally go to Holland and try it.  
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