A feeling of choking on your own saliva is a very scary thing. The feeling that most patients report is almost like a feeling of drowning. This is something that has to be investigated without any delay whatsoever.
1. Overproduction of Saliva: Sialorrhea or the over production of saliva is actually quite common to see. Most of these people will not have anything worse than a little drooling at night, however there are some that may feel they are actually choking due to this increased salivary production.
The cause of this condition needs to be investigated and can be caused by an infection or inflammation of the salivary glands, a neural abnormality as seen in patients suffering from Parkinson's disease or there may be no apparent cause at all.
The use of the anti-cholinergic class of drugs has been found to quite successful in controlling this excessive salivation.
2. GERD: This basically stands for Gastro Esophageal Reflux disorder and is caused by a malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter. The acid from the stomach is allowed to flow back up triggering an increase in the salivary production and leading to a choking feeling.
A hiatal hernia is also commonly seen as the cause behind GERD. The management for GERD ranges from diet and lifestyle changes to surgery. It has been seen that majority of the patients improve by non surgical means. A thorough investigation by the ENT surgeon is a must.
The cause for this feeling of choking may actually lie in the throat. An injury to one of the many sensitive anatomic structures in the throat can lead to a failure of the muscles do work in harmony.
There will usually be other symptoms associated with a growth or injury in the area, like hoarseness of voice, difficulty in swallowing, pain and even bleeding from the throat.
If this is suspected then the doctor will have to run blood tests and do MRI's to confirm the diagnosis and start medication or schedule for surgery at the earliest.
4. Nerve injury
The muscles of the throat are supplied by the recurrent laryngeal nerve and the glossopharyngeal nerve. Any reason which interrupts with the normal transmission of signals from these nerves to the muscles will result in muscular weakness and paralysis.
The cause for this nerve damage could a lesion in the brain or a direct trauma to the nerve. Nerve injury is notoriously difficult to heal and the sooner it is detected, the better are the chances for successful treatment.
An MRI of the brain to rule out any lesion or growths in the brain are necessary as well as nerve conduction tests to ensure proper functioning of the nerve.
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