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Fear of swallowing food.  Panic while swallowing food.

Feb 01, 2008 - 58 comments

I am 46 years old female.  I have been experiencing fear of swallowing food for the last 10 years now.  I have talked to three different doctors and they are of no help.  I decided to serf the net to see if I can find people with similar problem. Yes, there are a lot of people suffering like me.  The problem is now affecting my daily life and my social life with my own families and friends.  I hope there is someone to help me out.  This year my goad is to find a cure for my problem at any cost. Please reply to my e-mail.  Thank you.

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406107 tn?1219016200
by Wassup, Feb 01, 2008
Dear Kucha,
I used to have trouble swallowing, mostly liquids, (strange but true).  I also had trouble burping.  Agas bubble would sit in my chest and fell so painful that I thought I was having a heart attack, I knew it was just a burp but it really hurt just the same. THEN, My, GI. Dr. did whats called an endoscopy where you take a nap, anesthesia and the put a tiny tube down your throat with a camera on the end so they can look all the way down your throat, then, they found a 'stricture' in my esophagus, and they did a 'dilitation' the dilitn. was done with a tiny baloon like thingy, they go down to where the narrowing is and widen it.  I've had it done twice, no big deal.  I might need another one, but It's not scarry, and the only after effect is a little sore throat that goes away in two days.  So, I don't know what Dr.s you saw, or what tests they may have done or not done.  But just because you feel paranoid or are afraid, doesn't mean that there might be something wrong after all.  God Blees you and good luck.

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by Kucha, Sep 01, 2008
Did you find someone to help you?  I am still experiencing swallowing problem.  This year I made a goal to surf the net and find a solution.

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by Kucha, Sep 01, 2008

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by shoeaddict, Jan 09, 2009
I, too am also having this problem.  When I am eating something...after a couple of minutes its like a switch goes off and I am scarred to death to swallowing because I feel like I am going to choke on my food.  I have to pretty much grind my food down to dust in my mouth and then take a drink in order to swallow my food.  Glad to know I am not the only one with this problem.  Trouble is I don't know how to make it stop.  HELP PLEASE ANYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Avatar universal
by SusieC122, Jan 27, 2009
Hi, You arent alone.  I've had this problem For 30 years.  

Some days are worse than others.  I went for years not letting it get to me.  Lately its been on my mind more.  
You just have to tell yourself that you're ok.  I'm trying to find a therapist who deals with OCD's like this.

Avatar universal
by worried2death619, Jul 31, 2009
Hi, I am a mom of a beautiful, smart, just all around wonderful 7-year old boy. Just recently he stopped wanting to eat, he has always had a great appetite. About a week and half ago, he was about to eat a piece of hard candy, which he had done, dozens. and dozens of times. He put in his mouth and in about 5-seconds he started to choke. My husband immediately started to do the heimlech, I grabbed the phone to dial 911, just then he passed the candy down his throat. He was scared. But got over it, so we thought. A few days past, then it started. He didn't want to eat, for the fear of anything getting stuck in his, throat. Know it is has been a struggle for him to eat. He's going to the doctor's this week coming. I feel that they won't be able to help. From what I have read from these testimonials, I think we are heading for a an uphill battle.

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by rainbow007, Sep 05, 2009
i had a fear of swallowing food when i was younger and managed to convince myself that i was ok after bout three years ..but it comes and goes now it's very strange... iv never been to the docs about it and when i was younger i never told anyone about not being able to swallow food, i used to dread eating in-front of people and it used to cause me to have panic attacks.. i just have to convince my self that i'm fine aand learn to relax my throat again it takes me a few months to get back to being able to swallow proper again but better then three years like the first time.. i hope you find some way to help your problem..

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by nickname451, Oct 11, 2009
I HAD this same fear/difficulty swallowing food after I chocked on a piece of shrimp.

After that ordeal, I started taking much smaller bites and chewing my food really small and drinking water--- logical yes, but didn't work for me. All of these things actually made it more difficult for me to eat. You need to RELAX and take your mind off the swallowing process. I found that drinking frequently washes away mucus that helps food slide down comfortably. Also over chewing (especially chicken) seems to make the bites seem drier and more difficult to swallow. It took me 2 mos to figure out how to eat comfortably again. From now on I know I could never eat like i used to, warfing down large bites of food.

I would suggest starting off by swallowing cubes of jello. Try to eat moist foods like pastas and rice (not grainy fried rice, but soft boiled white rice), while trying to avoid gulping water after every bite. Overtime, chew your food properly, but do not over chew. Just remember YOU ARE OK, swallowing by nature is an involuntary process, thinking about swallowing will only obstruct the process. So RELAX, watch TV while you eat, have conversation anything to distract yourself.

Hope this helps

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by balasun, Dec 22, 2009
i will tell you a way to distract yourself as you are swallowing.
1) make a fist tight and focus on the grip as you are swallowing
2) on the actual act of swallowing make a pinch with your thumb index and ring fingers together.
3) or start tapping your finger on a desk as you are eating or swallowing
4) tell yourself "it is not me it is my OCD, AND ONLY A CHEMICAL IMBALANCE".
You should be able to swallow quite well if your problem is in your mind.
5) KEEP talkng to a counselor or a psychologist about all your fears; the more you vent your fears , THE LESS FEAR YOU WILL HAVE.
keep in touch

Avatar universal
by EMDR77, Oct 20, 2010

I have the same issue. It only started after being home alone and food lodging in my throat. Frightening! I went to eat the next day and found that I couldn't swallow the solid food because I thought I was going to choke on it. Water and liquids were also an issue. I did some research and found out about a technique a Psychologist does and it's called EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that was developed to resolve symptoms resulting from disturbing and unresolved life experiences. It uses a structured approach to address past, present, and future aspects of disturbing memories. It's a form of psychotherapy that uses rapid eye movement to help recondition an anxiety response. After one session I was able to drink liquids comfortably and not spit any of it out like I had to before. I am having my second session tomorrow. I've read case studies of a woman who couldn't swallow liquids or solids for 4 years!! and after 8 session the phobia was cured and she was able to eat both without any fear/panic etc. You have to get a referral from your Doctor. Research EMDR, find a psychologist who specializes in EMDR (preferably at a supervisor level - they have highest level of study in EMDR) call the Psychologist, tell them briefly your problem and then take the psychologist name and address to the Doctor and get the Doctor to write a referral specifically to see that Psychologist. Don't bother telling your doctor what EMDR is, just tell them that you want to see a psychologist for Anxiety etc as what I've found is that Doctors are only good in prescribing medications or sending you off for tests. The robotic medical system isn't into other areas such as EMDR.

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by ststene25, Dec 23, 2010
I too have experienced this problem, since I was eating my dinner one day, went to swallow and felt the food stay at the back of my mouth and immediaitely thought I was going to choke. It was horrible - my heart starting racing and I panicked. Ever since then I have felt really awkward about eating, sometimes not being able to finish my meals. Normally I shove my food down as I have quite an appetite! This has been going on for a couple of months now, and Im getting a bit tired of it. Sometimes I have managed to eat my full meal, as I do believe its mind over matter. I just hope I can persuade myself for good that I wont die when I try and eat, christmas dinner is on its way!

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by praiseJesus2711, Feb 08, 2011

GOOD NEWS!!! for all the people who thinks that there's food stuck in their throat. Well, it isn't the food that is stuck in the back of your throat. I will share about what happened to me. First, I had a difficulty swallowing foods even water I'm scared to drink because of feeling choking. I couldn't breathe from my mouth because there's something stuck in the back of my throat and in my nose,I feel there's something like a lot of pieces of rice that build up into a ball. I keep hacking to try to dislodge the foods from my throat and my nose but it didn't want to come out. I went to ER for 4 times, I went back and forth to my Medical Doctor and even to Endocrinologist but they didn't find the answer for my problem.My lab tests, x-rays came out all clear they said there's nothing wrong. I always went home frustrated, I'm losing weight because I couldn't eat at all. I thought it was going to be the end of my life. Worrying for my kids who's gonna take care of them because they are still small. I'm a Born Again Christian, I pray to the Lord Jesus... I trust Him, He created us so He will be the one who will heal us. He used my husband and my dad as an instrument to prove that He (Jesus) is the Healer. My husband always insisted that I have a tonsilitis but I just ignored him and the third time that I went to ER the MD told me that my tonsils glands were swollen and they gave me a steroid that they mixed into orange juice. It helped about my hard time swallowing but the stuck problem in my throat and in my nose were still there that's why it's hard for me to breathe. My dad told me about the MUCINEX D that you can buy over the counter but they keep it inside the pharmacy with the prescription medicines. You have to explain to the pharmacist first what your symptoms are before they sell it to you. For the fourth time that I went to ER, the doctor told me that she's going to discharge me because my x-ray was clear and told me sorry that they couln't help me anymore and sending me home frustrated again. Like what I said, I trust God with all my heart, by faith I know He will heal me. I trust Him, I accept Him as my Personal Savior. He answered my prayer... Before I left the ER, I took the 2 capsules of MUCINEX D from my bag. While my husband was driving,after 30 mins. I can feel the stuff from my nose dripping down inside and I felt good, I can was the mucus stuck inside... Glory to God!!!
It's my second day of recovery and I started to eat soft rice, I finished the first bowl "praise the Lord". I can still feel the mucus in my throat but I know the medicine still working so I just continue taking it on time, 2 capsules every 12 hours. I know that the mucus stuck inside the reason of choking because I can feel it. Now, I'm starting the nebulizer treatment to help loosen the mucus inside and I just keep hacking the mucus out if I feel on my throat.  With the help of God, by faith I know I can eat  again normally without fearing of choking.
I hope it can help for all the people who's suffering with my same problem. Just trust to our Lord Jesus, nothing is impossible...
Read more: Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders Forum - Food that stuck in the back of the throat

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by Jay418, Apr 20, 2011
Hello, I'm a 48 year old woman and for the past 2 months I have had a problem of swallowing my saliva because I tend to choke on it to add insult to injury now for the past week it has become a problem for me to swallow food.....this situation is driving me crazy & makinking my life a living HELL....when I try to eat I start to have a panic attack and brought to tears for fear of choking.....I'm starving & losing weight....I just want this to stop!!! I've been praying for this to stop....I'm so unhappy.....I don't know if it's a mental of physical illiness because it seems when I'm not too conscious of it I'm I alone.........PLEASE HELP! Thank you!

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by lucy11209, Jun 05, 2011
im a 57 year old woman who is suffering from not being able to swallow any solid food for fear of choking. this started 2 months ago and its driving me nuts, i cant take it, ive tried but as soon as i start to eat i start panicking and spit the food out of my mouth for fear of choking, im so miserable and saddened by this, i only take down liquids and purried stuff but im losing a lot of weight and really am practically starving myself. i used to be such a good eater but i dont know what happened to me, this happened right after i fell and fractured my ankle and its been downhill ever since, my family says im crazy and im starting to believe i am, ive been through tests and the only thing they found was acid reflex which i thank God its nothing worse but i cant eat like a normal person, its terrible, im so glad to know that im not alone in this, i thought i was, i feel for the others who are going through the same thing, please,can somebody help? thank you

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by buffmexican, Jul 08, 2011
Attention everyone. Let me start off by saying that there is a cure for this swallowing difficulty. I will discuss later how to become cured but in the meantime allow me to screws this problem. I know what this is like..I've suffered for years because of this. I used to be normal you know, I never had problems swallowing solid foods or liquids and actually never thought about it just took it for granted. Suddenly this one particular night after playing and running around I began to drink water to rehydrate when I suddenly felt like the water get stuck at the moment of swallowing. Ever since then I had that fear of swallowing and because of it suffered tremendously. It got to the point where I stopped eating completely, would cry on a daily basis, and even thought about comiting suicide. After about 15 years It went away. How? As u can see this swallowing problem or difficulty we all have is only because we ourselves "think" we have it or "image" it because of a previous experience or event. You see, ever since my choking experience I wold always envision or think "im going to choke" whenever I would eat. This made me think hard about how I had to swallow without letting it naturally happen, what im trying to say is that if we over think or force ourselves to swallow we are actually making it harder because its supposed to be a natural thing its just that our past experiences make us anxious and worrisome and this makes us uncomfortable and makes swallowing a scary thing to do. Swallowing is like breathing. We can hold our breath and make ourselves breathe faster or control when we breathe but at the same time it is something that happens naturally and without us being aware that it happens without us aware. So you see, our brain naturally breathes for us when we don't think about it and it is the same for swallowing. Just don't thinking about it. Next tome your eating just try to get happy because there is really nothing wrong with you, it was just a bad experience. The first step to getting better is taking that first bite and knowing that u won't choke because your body does this naturally. Its just like any other thing, you were just overthinking something simple, relax and let your body's natural swallowing reflex take action. Trust me please, do this and you'll be looking back and laughing at this in your future.  

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by Kbeardog, Oct 29, 2011
I am so glad to hear that i am not alone with this problem.  I have been going through the same thing since around Spring of 2007.  I spit my food out and chew it for the longest time before i can swallow it.  It's not a enjoyable experience for sure.  I just want to say god bless you all that has this problem and I know that someday God will heal us from this dilemma.  Meanwhile, thank you for sharing your stories here.  They have encouraged me so much in that I am not alone:)

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by zenab2832, Nov 01, 2011
hello i am 14 years old and basically, i am petrified to swallow food. i try and try and half way through i jus feel like its going somewhere else rather htan my throat and its horrible. i have to watch my mates eating delish food and it *****. im starving as all i can et are yogurts and gum. ang all i can do is drink liquids. please help:(

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by leaser, Aug 29, 2012
Hi your not alone either  im 22 years and I try to eat proper in front of other but I cant cause I have a chocking fear.even embrassing when you want to go somewhere out to eat they ask arent you hurngray I say no =(. Someone help me overcome this promblem

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by Tontosplay, Nov 21, 2012
I had this problem at a young age. 9 to be exact. I remember every bit of it because I was put in a psychiatric hospital for about a year for my disorder which was basically a fear of swallowing whole foods. My treatment began with conquering easy to swallow drinks and foods and then eventually solid foods. I remember my 1st challenge being orange juice with pulp. The next was pudding/jello. I eventually worked my way up in the course of the year to finally overcome it. Thought I'd share my experience and treatment so that maybe it will help someone. Good luck.

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by youarenotyourkhakis, Nov 26, 2012
hello there. i'm suffering this ridiculous illness as well. it started after choking on a sandwich almost three months ago. i checked myself into the ER.. i told them i swear something went down the wrong pipe! they didnt take me seriously. i advised that i did eventually blackout in my apt bathroom. my gf at the time thought i was over reacting.. everything was fine a  couple weeks down the line it happened again. this time the ER actually did an x ray. only for the results to come back    with no negative signs..... the next day. anything with texture that i ate would "lock up" in my throat. everything.. liquids however were fine.. which confused me. to tell you bout myself im 22, male 5"5 116lbs. and very active. i skate board religiously a couple hours a day. this being said, i dont believe its healthy that i lost 12 lbs within a month now down 104. i started to avoid eating at all cost. went to a digestive specialist. diagnosed me with dysphagia.. did the usual endoscope.... nothing just found i had a large amount of stomach bile.. the next test made me almost lose all will to live. an esophigill motilaty..... something of that zort. they stuck a freaken tube the length and width of a thick shoe lace up in my nose..down the back of my throat in my stomach while awake no drugs.. first they shot numbing agents into my nostril and to the back of my throat.. this test was to measure how healthy/normal my swallow is. test came out to be i had a weak swallwow. freakin no sh*t. i couldve told them that. ive been hit by a car going 25. fractured  my hip and broke my ribs had my hand stuck in a treadmill which gave me third degree burns. i can honestly say that esophigill motility thing was thee worst experience in my life. one of the reasons being i gagged on that tube thing and thought i was for sure going to die taking into consideration the looks on the nurses face.. i stopped treatment that very second..i eventually  started reading up on this but more as a mental illness. its hard to except im kind of crazy and this is a result for stress and anxiety. which explains a lot. i worry like no ones business. have ocd of checking my desk and doors about 8 times in a row. run on 4 hours of sleep everyday. and work 9 hour shifts as a backend credit card collector for one of the worlds biggest bank running about almost two years now. it all makes since. humans arent suppose to be exposed to stress of this sort. fight or flight and "stress" is a naturally reflex used only if you, are going to end up beings somebodys food. not fear of making next months rent or fear of not making that big incentve.. im slowly learning to cope. getting more sleep everynight.. and giving myself some hope and happiness... such as  reading everybody elses post on here. it makes me feel sane so many humans deal with this messed up issue. thank you all and good luck.

Hi everyone,the thing I want to tell here is that I have/had the same problem and I'm slowly recovering.As far as I can remember once a piece of mutton stuck in my throat and I was scared that I'm going to choke to death.From that very day I could not eat mutton piece and slowly other things like jackfruit and etc.Then after sometime I was diagnosed with OCD(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)[although slowly other problems started to get associated with the swallowing problem later]  and medication started.Now,after 1 and 1/2 years of starting my medicine I am slowly recovering from the swallowing problem.Doctor (psychiatrist) told me,only the thought (of death by choking) was the main reason I could not swallow.

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by JBLombard, Apr 28, 2013
I have had this problem for about 3 years now and I can only say that I have a better time eating while I am walking or standing. Something about being on your feet always takes your mind off of the fact that you are swallowing food. It's a weird and might not help for anyone else, but like everyone who experiences that fear, it's weird in and of itself.

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by julieann444, Nov 21, 2013
I don't know exactly when or how this started, but it's making my life a living hell.  I have tried everything suggested by everyone on here, and nothing has helped, I'm so discouraged.

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by youarenotyourkhakis, Jan 19, 2014
Here's an update. It's been over a year, and I'm back to normal. Eating a lot again and regularly. Here's the tips; drink more water, less stress, find a better job, don't eat hard to control foods such as soups for the beginning of all this, stay positive, and most importantly of all. get off this page. Quit researching all of this crap. Quit thinking of it. Quit worrying about it. Eat only when your starving at the start, don't force yourself to eat as a test. That's it. Nothing more nothing less.

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by throathappy12, Mar 12, 2014
How did you get help?any tips? Places to go?

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by difromflo, Apr 22, 2014
Ive had this since I was 12. I am now 58! 46 years of battling this demon fear. I have had every therapy, med, etc. I have not gone to a doc who uses EMDR. I am anxious to give it a try. I do have easier times....when my mind is totally on something else. For the last 3 yrs liquids are the hardest...they arent a mass and i feel the drink will disperse into my lungs and kill me. I am very ASHAMED of my condition. On prozsc and klonopin but feel that the great benefit I got from klonopin is now c oes nothing and now I am hooked. I have thought of suicide so many times but weMUST believe it will get better, ee cannot leave our loved ones behind. I am praying for you all and ask for yr prayers. God has not forgotten us....we have be re n through some of the most hellish times and we sll will be released from this fear. I am still hopeful(when im not crying my eye a out). I will be on the phone tomorrow about the EMDR. God b less you all and the cross you have had to bear. It is time we lai dc it down. Stay in tou c h.

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by scarllet, Apr 30, 2014
Hello..i too am suffering from a worst choking problem..and everytime i try to swallow solid food i feel it will get chocked! So i am in an urgent need of this problem is making me weaker day by day...and also i tried to divert myself many times from this fear..but..that wasn't of any use..its also preety embarrasing..but this problem has come to me for the last 3 years..and now it has got worst..even i fear to get chocked by water..pls help..

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by destiny151263, Jul 19, 2014
Hello all fellow sufferers.  I am 34 and this started for me about a year ago. Some days im fine and I think to myself that im gonna be ok, then other days I have to spit out what im eating because the fear is so strong! I dont know why this has started though. I havent chocked on anything! But the fear is very real! I find it to be worse when I eat in public. Most of the time spent chewing then wasting my food all together.  Nobody around me seems to understand,  and im told by all to just relax, and im over thinking.  Imso glad to see that I am not alone! After all my research ive decided that its my anxiety,  but dont know how to treat it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! :) also, I cant take meds for my anxiety because taking pills makes me panic... weird I know. Thanks to all for listening! :)

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by Rainy129, Nov 24, 2014
Hello!everyone,I am 43 female and started suffering from swallowing solid food when vitamin pills not going down two months ago. I remember I had jumped up and down about 2 hours to tried to get it down. Went to ER due to short of breath the next day,Two upper GI endo with Bravo tests,ENT doctor,lung doctor,neurologist nothing unusual... I now start to suspect it's panic attack that I have suffered... My herb doctor friend suggested to relax and don't think about it,but eating has become such a huge burden. Will antidepressant medicine help me to conquer fear and balance my brain chemicals?

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by Sjdferg, Jan 04, 2015
Same boat as many others. I am 35 and had this for about ten years. I usually take small sips of water with each swallow as my coping mechanism. But in the last month it has gotten really bad. People don't understand and just say relax, it's all in your head. But trying to not overthink it is about as helpful as saying don't look at the elephant in the corner - you're going to obviously look. I'm now having several panic attacks a day, with each one being a massive rush of adrenaline. I would say it is now being fear but psychosomatic. I physically can't swallow in some cases. It is like peeing your pants. You've trained your mind not to pee your pants, so you can do it but only with great concentration and right conditions. There is the same mental-physical block when swallowing as peeing in one's pants.

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by joevany, Apr 21, 2015
I have it on occasion it is a mixture of a panic attack and OCD, it usually happens when I am more stressed. I either take a Rivotril pill or drink water or any drinkable liquid.The medication would be probably the same ones used for OCD
or when it happens change your thought pattern right away to something the tv,look for something to do to get distracted  I hate when it happens and still not capable of ridding from it totally but it does have to do with stress especially when you are going thru tuff times.It happens less when all is going well.

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by oriongazer, Apr 28, 2015
I have  been  having  problems  swallowing  for  about  2  months , and  the  more I  think  about  it  the worse  it  becomes . Tablets  are  a nightmare , how  can  such  a  small  thing  be  so  difficult  to  get  down . I'm  sure  its  all  in  the  mind , but knowing  that  doesn't  help .
It's  a  relief  knowing  I'm  not  alone  with  this  problem , but  I  would  give  anything  to  just  be  like  everybody  else . The  thought  of  choking  is  always  at  the  back  of my  mind , &  the  more  I  worry  about  it , the  harder  it  gets .
Just  going  to  finish  my  cup  of  coffee , using  tiny  sips , instead  of  proper  mouthfulls .
Does  ANYONE  have  any  tips to  get  over  this  stupid  problem.  I've  seen  'phobics  doing  "tapping "excercises , would  anything  like  that  help ?

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by 1Ramelle, May 23, 2015
I have been reading all these posts with tears in my eyes, knowing the hell that you are going through! I suffered from the fear of swallowing/choking from the time I was 10 until I was about 17. I have read that this condition, called pseudodysphagia, is often triggered by a traumatic experience, especially a chocking incident. ( see
When I was 10, I had my tonsils removed. The doctor was old and had health problems and was about to retire, but he was a friend of the family so my parents had this doctor do the surgery. Afterward my surgery, when I was completely  healed from the tonsillectomy, I noticed that I could not swallow comfortably without feeling like I was choking. Sometimes pieces of food would get stuck in the back of my throat and I would panic. That's when I looked at my throat in the mirror and found that a thread of flesh was connected from the top of my soft-palette down to the base of where my tonsil had been, like a guitar string.
Food really was getting caught in that string of flesh! I told my parents, and they took me back to the doctor to have it removed. I was shocked when the doctor took scissors in his hand and began to snip the string of flesh from my throat from bottom to top where it was connected. After he painfully corrected my botched tonsillectomy, this inept doctor cauterized my throat tissue . . . All this WITHOUT numbing it first! It was a horrible experience!
What as almost as bad as the pain was that I could smell my own flesh burning as it was cauterized and the smoke drifted up into my sinuses.
After that, I had a fear of swallowing. Sometimes my fears were realized when my fear-constricted throat would close up on me and I would actually get something stuck against the side of my throat, such as a lettuce leaf or piece of apple skin. So for the next few years, I totally avoided raw veggies and fruits.
Then I got braces on my teeth . . . One day a piece of stringy meat got stuck on one of the metal bands on a back molar. The meat went partially down my throat, but stayed stuck by a string to my braces and I started to choke. So after that, I could not eat meat. For years I existed on soft foods, especially dairy. Besides gaining weight, I developed sinus problems from eating too much cheese and milk.
In addition to my fear of choking, based on some very real choking experiences, I began to fear that I had throat cancer. My dearly-loved grandfather had cancer and I thought I had it, too. That was the era when the 10 warning signs of cancer were often broadcast on the TV screen. One symptom of throat cancer was "Difficulty Swallowing." This only fortified my fears.
I found that I could sometimes swallow without too much difficulty if I chewed everything to a liquid and then had a glass of water handy to push it down. If there was no drink handy, I simply would not risk eating whatsoever. Eventually, I found that if I touched the side of my right index finger to my lips, I could swallow. This gesture simulated the motion of raising a glass to my lips. It "fooled" my brain into thinking I had some water to push down the food. But even with this coping mechanism, I was still tormented by the fear of swallowing. Sometimes I'd have such a panic attack that I couldn't even swallow my own spit. It truly was hell!
So . . . what changed? Why did this torment end by the time I was 17? Well, I found that the answer to my fears was to place my trust in someone who was greater than my fears and anxiety. That "someone" was Jesus. When I asked Him to forgive me of all the sins in my life and to be my Lord, he did just that. Jesus not only became my Savior, but my dearest friend. Little by little, He took away the fear of choking, along with a few other fears that were crippling me emotionally. (Fear of Death was one of them!) Now, here I am at age 61, totally healed of pseudodysphagia. When I was a kid, there was no name for my condition. Nowadays there is a name for it and there is help through medical professionals and counseling. Medication for OCD/anxiety orders may be helpful, too. But for me, the greatest healing came from God and putting my life in His very capable, very loving hands. I hope that those of you who suffer from pseudodysphagia find healing, too, though Jesus who loves you more than you will ever know.

Avatar universal
by TheHelpingGuy, Jul 09, 2015
Guys I have been through the same experiences you have been going through. Let me tell you though, you will get better, you just have to believe in yourself. At one point in my life, I was barely able to swallow any liquid, this is the scariest experiences I have had. But I kept pushing and pushing week in and out not giving up. After about 6 months I was back to normal.

What I find help me best:

-it is easiest to swallow food when you are not thinking about it, it is really hard to do this when you're worried about it all day but over time you'll start to worry a bit less.
-if you are sitting at home doing nothing all day, I would strongly recommend getting out and doing something. The fresh air helps to clear your mind especially when having panic attacks.
-find what place is best for you to eat, for me it was with friends because I was so distracted that I didn't even focus much on swallowing
-build yourself up very slowly. It may sounds strange but make a plan for yourself, don't take it too fast and try and eat what is hardest for you. build yourself up with foods that are only slightly uncomfortable to swallow. Even if this is drinking a thicker liquid, it still helps to boost your confidence.
-this may seem odd but try not to search up online all the time for answers. Yes it is ok to do it once in a while, but if you do it everyday, it will keep you focused on your problem even if you aren't eating.
-bit of a repeat but if you are always on your electronics, this doesn't help either, try to stay away from electronics as much as possible as for me, they increased my anxiety.
-give it time, it is unlikely you will overcome this in a week, maybe not even a month. Just be patient and try to enjoy life!
-lastly, i recommend seeing a doctor if you haven't. sometimes these issues can be treated, or your doctor may recommend a psychologist to help you overcome your fear.


Avatar universal
by Marso_, Aug 08, 2015
Hi just wanted to say I had fear of swallowing and going crazy for years I found a therapist he put me on Paxil and Xanax and I finally have a normal life. I don't feel like taking off and just running and I can finally eat and just be human

Avatar universal
by Marso_, Aug 08, 2015
Hi just wanted to say I had fear of swallowing and going crazy for years I found a therapist he put me on Paxil and Xanax and I finally have a normal life. I don't feel like taking off and just running and I can finally eat and just be human

Avatar universal
by mjskrabs, Aug 11, 2015
Hello I'm so happy to have found this thread of stories as there is a minimal amount of information regarding this fear/condition what ever it is (Does it have a name) online, I have been struggling with swallowing food for 8-9 years but in the last 2 years it has evolved into it's worse state, I have lost a considerable amount of weight because of it and find myself eating or trying to eat small portions whilst in a hyper-awear state overthinking every moment of the eating experience because I know that the swallowing food part is coming up.

It is literally exhausting and I feel for anyone who is going through this problem. I'm amazed by how something so simple to the majority of humans has become such a complicated and complex procedure for me. It means I can't eat with people, I have to spit food out and edit down the foods that I can and cannot eat. and there are a ever growing list of conditions for example Cold foods for me are better then hot foods, Standing up makes it easier then sitting down. I feel like the more 'normal' I try and eat i.e .. Sitting down at a table, Being with people, 3 meals a day or what ever, the harder it becomes.
i have to take myself out of the traditional modes of eating just to even get by sometimes.

This condition is like my Mind has set a rule book for me and swallowing and every time I swallow I'm going against it and it is horrible. Truly. Horrible.

I have moderate anxiety issues and am about to start some EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) which has been mentioned on this thread before as I have come to understand that this swallowing thing (for me at least) may not necessarily be a condition, it may be a symptom of my anxieties. (I am hopeful for this) and also that the EMDR will help rid me of this Hyper-Awearness of swallowing food.

My one little piece of advice to anyone experiencing this is to give the 'condition' a name (a legitimate human name like beth or kyle or phillip for example), My hyper awareness of swallowing is called 'Arnold' and this means I can comfortably say 'Arnolds being a douche today' or, 'Arnold is chilled today' and my family and close friends know what I'm talking about without the need for that over explaining of something that is very hard to relay to people who can swallow food with ease. for me it's been better then saying 'My eating is really bad today' because I don't consider this a eating problem, I love food, its taste, and textures its the swallowing part thats the bit that sits so heavy in my mind.

What have others used to deal with the over-awearness of swallowing?

Avatar universal
by lyds1396, Sep 01, 2015
hey I have the same problem as you. It said off as just pizza stringy cheese and I would try to swallow but only to throw it back up and I've done it a number of times and believe me it's not a pleasant sight. But the problem is when I am in my own home, I am completely fine and can it anything really. But the main problem is when I go out to restaurants, I am a really slow eater anyways. But this makes it even slower, as well as the fact that I'm small so I've got a small stomach. And if I put to much in my mouth, well to much for me anyway. I feel like I have to spit it. Also I reckon I've got my problem from my granddad as he has the exact same problem, although not as bad. It's mainly thought or thinking of choking, which is the main problem. Can problems be passed on through family members. And the worst part is, that I would like to go to a restaurant and have a pizza and eat without having to change it in some way. Any help or advice out there?  

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by 123867, Sep 24, 2015
I have the same problem for over 3 years now , my reasons probably different than yours I hope gets better

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by 123867, Sep 24, 2015
Hello, I have the same problem for over 3 years now for several reasons, one is painful ibs and not having normal hunger charsh cravings and exccessive thirst, I got into the bad habbit of chewing and spitting it out want out of that one

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by MariGio, Oct 09, 2015
hello, i have the same problem, no doctor could help me, i was thinking just i gave this problem, i lose 16 kg in two month, everything started 9 month ago when my sister died and i coudnt eating, i make food bleander or eat just piure, its very hard and people cant understand what i feel...i wish one day we be health and happy :)

Avatar universal
by Anne_Shus1, Nov 02, 2015
Has anyone actually overcome this?? I've had this problem for 20 years and tried everything I can think of but nothing has worked. I sometimes don't know how I have gotten through life and it scares me that I will probably always be this way. It makes life unbearable sometimes.

Avatar universal
by rtdelilah, Feb 09, 2016
This is awful!! I choked on a raw carrot peel until I was grey and going blue in Jan 2014,  developed throat spasms and they tightened my throat, they operated and loosened it but I kept having them..they finally went away and I made some progress in aug 2015 I began I live on only pureed food so I have not overcome this, I have had no therapy or medication just my Bible has gotten me through im 33 year old female.

I really feel for you all and I'm so sorry to know that so many people suffer with this debilitating fear that unfortunately manifests itself physically..and therein lies the problem

Avatar universal
by Jacqueline_3, Mar 13, 2016
It's really important to get enough nutrients from food, especially for the brain. Too little nutrients can worsen any anxieties and change your perception of situations. My daughter has chewing problem, fortunately not a swallowing issue. I make her smoothies with a little water, ground almonds or oats, coconut oil or butter, organic egg yolks which if organic don't need cooking, fruit and honey. Can have one for breakfast and take one with you for lunch, then eat two when you get home. This is all highly nutrtious and very tasty, at least while you take time to address this issue you certainly shouldn't starve.

Avatar universal
by Ivy822, Apr 19, 2016
I thought I was the only one.  It started about 5 years ago.  At first once in a while.  I even went to the ER twice. And for the last 3 years it's daily.  I stopped eating meats.  I have to chew until it almost disappears in my mouth.  Sometimes I take spit it out.  It's worst when I'm with anxiety.  I went to my first counseling session today.  The counselor never heard of it before.  I hope I can be normal again.

Avatar universal
by Redken5, May 08, 2016
HI, I also have this same problem and looking for help to get better! I've had anxiety, depression and OCD for nearly 20 years, but never feared about choking on food or it getting stuck in my throat until 3 months ago, I was eating a gummy worn one night and when I went to swallow the last bit it felt like maybe it got stuck in my throat so I started panicking and retching trying to get it back up but never could so I finally laid down and the next morning I thought I felt better until I tried eating a kiwi fruit and the last bit felt like it got hung so I had my daughter take me to the ER and they done a exray to see if there was anything stuck in my throat and they said there wasn't so they gave me a referal to a mental health place and said it was more than likely anxiety making me feel this way, so I still couldn't eat without feeling like it was hanging in my throat so I told my regular doctor and he had me do a Barium swallow test and it came back good so he put me on an antidepressant and said it should help my anxiety after a few weeks but after reading a lot of stuff on the Internet about this it says there's no help for it, so I don't know what to do, all I've eaten in 3 months is literally ice cream, pudding, yogurt and baby food, I can drink liquid stuff but nothing chunky or gritty or I start painting thinking it's going to get stuck in my throat! I can't handle this crap any longer, does anyone know if antidepressants will help it any or not? Thanks and God Bless

Avatar universal
by Vladimyra, Jul 31, 2016
I know this is an older post that hasn't been used since May of 2016, but I felt the need to inform everyone what I found. What we are experiencing is Pseudodysphagia, which is a real fear/phobia. "Rather than appearing all at once, pseudodysphagia tends to develop progressively, as the victim becomes more and more preoccupied with the thought that swallowing can lead to choking, until these concerns become a constant presence whenever food is being consumed. In these situations negative internal feedback can gain an unstoppable momentum, as initial glimmers of fear gradually escalate into an inescapable and overwhelming obsession." From my research, as this developed slowly over the past several months with me, I have found that "people who develop pseudodysphagia almost invariably suffer from other mental health troubles, including depression, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and generalized hypochondria." There currently isn't a full fledged "cure", but anxiety medication (not anti-depressants) can help the person suffering from this relax enough to normalize swallowing. It's highly recommended to visit a mental health center, and talk to a psychiatrist/psychologist, and fully discuss this with them, and basically go from there. I hope this has helped, and you all have a wonderful day.

Avatar universal
by Indygirl618, Sep 09, 2016
I have had this very mildly for over 7 years. Then when I had my 3rd child in May 2016, it rapidly escalated to severe. I typically don't eat much when I'm alone at home because no one is here to "save me" if needed. I do eat okay when my husband is home, though I still get very anxious before and during meals.

I have gotten better over the past couple of weeks, so I want to add my advice.
1. Take small bites. Not teeny-tiny, but smaller than an adult would normally take. Reassure yourself that this small of a bite is actually physically impossible to choke on. After all, you will be able to cough it out if part of it somehow gets past your epiglottis (unlikely). And the bolus of the small bite is too small to block your airway, so you won't die. By taking these smaller bites, you will begin to forget about the swallowing mechanism and involuntary control will resume.
2. There is no need to lose excessive amounts of weight with this issue. Sure you may lose a few pounds (maybe more if you're overweight), but you can get creative with the smoothies and supplements. Often my breakfast is Carnation breakfast essentials with 10oz of whole milk + 2oz of light cream. That's almost 500 calories. I'll also drink a tablespoon of olive oil after that (120 calories). So, there's about 600 just for breakfast. Make smoothies with ground nuts (use a spice grinder to turn them into powder), baby food oatmeal (mixes easier), protein powder, various fats, and add produce for the fiber and nutrients. Loads of calories. There is 200 calories in 1/4 c. of walnuts. If you're short on time, buy the Naked brand protein smoothies-- 420 calories. Have some ice cream at night before bed. Learn to make cream soups and egg drop soup. Again, get creative. Don't lose weight and don't lose nutrients.
3. Use puréed/smooth foods (applesauce, yogurt, cream soups, ice cream) to build confidence that you can swallow just fine. You physically cannot choke on these, so practice with them and let it go. Sometimes I see how fast I can eat those to force my swallow reflex to take over and shut my conscious brain up.
4. Do EMDR. I bought an app called EMDR101 to do it at home. Try doing it while you're eating. I prefer to use the alternating beeps while wearing my earbuds to the eye movements while I'm eating (go into dot settings to turn this feature on). Any kind of alternating stimulus works for EMDR, not just eye movement (so, sound in alternating ears and alternating taping feet or hands is effective).
5. Recognize that you will still have bad days despite overall progress. Try not to get frustrated. Just say, oh well, and drink a smoothie or something delicious. It may also never go away fully but I have hope I will make considerable progress.
6. As someone else suggested, only try to eat meals when you're actually hungry. Don't force it just to test yourself. It won't work. I also agree with getting out of the house enough and try to get enough sleep.

I hope I've been of some help. It truly has been the worst time of my life, barring death of a loved one. It won't last forever though.

Avatar universal
by irinhush, Nov 10, 2016
to all of you suffering i have to say i am completly recovered from it. i had if for 2 years after a rice chocked on and i was diying so i started to chew food till melt in my mouth and always eat with water i was living hell for 2 years i lost 12 kg amd i was truely a skin and bone and everyone male fun of me eating. i dont know how i exactly recovered but i know i had a surgery and after that i became so week and i started telling myself if i dont eat i will die i will drain so mean while i developed panic attacks and anxity and derealization disorder so i found out have to eat since with this newly mental disorders and weekness if i dont eat i will die keep telling yourself so. it is a year thanks god i have no problem eating normally developed mental disorders, at least i can eat

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by rb1961, Feb 27, 2017
I have lost over 20 lbs in the last 4 months. I had an experience of food going down "the wrong whole" and it left me gasping for air. Since then, I have a fear of choking. I choked on hard candy at age 3 and turned blue and almost died, so I have a vivid memory of that incident. I can't afford to lose any more weight and have been drinking Boost, etc, but can't live on a liquid diet. Mine is related to anxiety and I don't have any throat issues. Any suggestions on how to overcome this? I am home alone all day, which makes it worse.

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by itsmestacy77, May 25, 2017
I am 39 years old and my choking fear has come and gone throughout most of my life. My mom told me I choked on a pickle when I was 2 and i have no memory of that. Then when i was 20 i took a bite of an apple and inhaled it. i was frightened to swallow because I KNEW i would choke immediately. It went down and I didn't even feel it. I continued to eat and never really thought of it unti my Dr was asking questions but nothing happened then. My therapist and psychiatrist say it's due to my OCD obsessing i'm going to choke, I'm going to choke. I have anxiety and depression as well as OCD and this fear. I went to an outpatient program for anxiety and depression which is where they explained my OCD and me restricting my diet due to my choking fear so they wanted me to go to an eating disorder program. I went to two different outpatient programs and lasted 1 day in each program. I was frightened when i was given mac and cheese my first meal. My mind was racing EACH bite. I was terrified. Now i'm at a crossroads as to what to do next. Call and see if my anxiety / depression outpatient program will take me back? Go back to the mac and cheese traumatic place which is an hour and a half trip each way from my house or continue to see my outside therapist / psychiatrist and read and do an OCD workbook. All medical things have been ruled out, i swallow correctly.

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by losangelesguy213, May 26, 2017
I have had a fear of swallowing food in general for the last 8 months since Sept 2016. It started after I had a panic attack while eating, and for some reason my brain associated food and swallowing with fear. This is classical conditioning (Pavlov dog). Our fear rests in the amygdala in the brain where we now view eating as a threat. I have been doing lots and lots of research and I believe that a new treatment for phobias involves blocking memory reconsolidation. Basically, scientists used to think that emotional fear memories were pretty much forever after they CONSOLIDATED in the brain. Now, it's been proven that memories RECONSOLIDATE, and during this process, it is possible to block memory reconsolidation, which essentially neutralizes the fear. I am not sure if anyone who has a phobia of swallowing food has been treated in this fashion yet, but it's been successfully implemented with people who have phobias of spiders, snakes, etc, as well as panic disorder and PTSD. What this means is that our fears are potentially unstable at times that could be wiped away. I am now looking for someone who is familiar enough with this process to try it out. I hope one day we can all be treated successfully and eat with ease and enjoyment once again. Google and YouTube "memory reconsolidation phobias" to read more about it.

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by losangelesguy213, May 26, 2017
Here's a YouTube video showing how memory reconsolidation works for phobias. Remember, fear is fear, so the concept here may be applied to our specific fear of swallowing. Please watch this six minute video:

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by robindiaz25, Jul 18, 2017
Hey guys, I've been dealing with difficulty swallowing for almost two months. It all started when I was about to eat dinner (chicken wings with broccoli and cheese) I was eating the broccoli just fine no problems and also ate a chicken wing no problem, tried to eat another one and chewed it up really good and then tried to swallow but couldn't I could feel it at the back of my mouth. I could breath and after five tries I finally swallowed. It put so much fear in me that I went straight to bed and cried. A couple days later I tried mash potato's and after a couple small bites again it got stuck in the back of my tongue until I an swallow again. I went to the ER they said see an gastroenterologist he did a barium swallow with x-rays found nothing , went to ENT doctor did a scope through my nose into my throat and he found nothing. What the hell is going on??? The ENT doc said it could be stress and the first time not being able to swallow scared me so bad that is sends me into a panic when I try and eat. So I haven't ate anything solid in over a month only liquids. I afraid to try and eat again. How do you know when the time is right? Please someone help me!!! Thank You

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by phobiabuster, Aug 14, 2017


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by losangelesguy213, Sep 09, 2017
Phobiabuster, you give us all hope! I feel so frustrated by my fear of swallowing and eating that sometimes I don't want to live. But I really do want to live because I had so much going for me in my life before this happened last Sept 2016. Can you please give me your email address (even if you make one up just for this forum) so I can ask you some questions about how you healed your mind? Thank you for sharing your success story. P.S. How many years did you have your fear of swallowing?

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by Emmajayne87, Jan 18, 2018
Is anyone still on this site??

I have had a fear of swallowing my foods for nearly 3 weeks I had a bad experiance about 6 years ago but managed to cure myself I am also currently in the process of waiting for a referral to psychiatrist as I really suffer with anxiety and also been diagnosed with postnatal depression it’s really getting me down even more I’ve been to the doctors and they have gave me some vanilla milkshakes that’s got plenty of calories and protein in them I also eat soft foods and get sick of eating the same stuff I look at my husband when he’s eating and I get so jealous coz I want to be like that again when he eats if anyone had any helpful tips I would be very great full if you could share them.

Thank you xx

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by kpp11, May 11, 2018
Dear Emmajayne, I am 3 months into this issue, I have had some CBT and it has REALLY helped. I now have a small list of foods I am comfortable to swallow and a small list I plan to try.
The main thing that helped me was to stop focusing all my attention on this issue. To realise that it is just one aspect that I am struggling with right now but life continues. As long as you are getting your minerals and calories and vitamins just relax about the food part. Your whole life is not food focused but you can easily become like this. So the eating part ? I get it I am jealous of my husband who can eat pizza my favourite thing, then I realised, its ok I will eat it one day, or maybe I wont but my life is not eating pizza... I am more than that. For now just step back from the focus on food.  First steps get your body enough calories and vits, then you can start to use the CBT or whatever therapy you have to tackle the food issues you have. Please do not let this issue make you place you life on hold this was an issue for me I did not want to do anything go anywhere it was over taking my whole like. I also kept saying in therapy ' I just want to be normal again - whats wrong with me, why cant I stop this'  Guess what I am normal, I just have some anxiety over this issue right now and thats OK.
I know its anxiety based and when you get your referral I hope this starts to ease your symptons.Remember dont rush it,dont put pressure on yourself, dont criticise yourself, go slow, go easy and be kind on yourself. What helped me was exposure therapy. So I would place a little bit of food that frightened me in my mouth but not even trying to swallow just placed inside, then progressed to chewing this and finally i ate a tiny tiny amount. You will be fine... I know it, I was in such a bad place... and I have come so far in 3 months.... I am not there yet but I have so much less anxiety about it now...

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