I will be fully 60 years on 16 February 2013, have lived on-and-off with the problem of waking up in panic because I couldn't swallow and (as a consequence) missed several seconds of my breathing so that I would be left panting and fully believing I nearly died, and only learned the reason for it six-or-five months ago - long after attempting to get advice from the internet and other sources.
I have since realised that my swallowing dificulties (only at night - towards bedtime usually and in sleep - began when I started living on my own (from family) soon after finishing secondary school (Uganda). Here, on my own, I made my own tea and I (like Some) liked it hot. thinking back all these past years, I do recollect that this is when I began the panic-waking-up-due-to-failure-to-swallow syndrome.
About three years ago, I was in the habit of hosting my good friend the physician and top flight military surgeon Col Dr james Kiyengo of General Military Hospital Bombo. Whenever I served him food (and tea) he would wait for it to cool so much and eat. I would, as expected, laugh at him - particularly about the tea. I do not think up to now that he refuised hot beverages due what I would learn later to be a danger but I recall him lecturing me that the palate and all the inner mouth was too delicate to 'naturally' tolerate the BURNING type of tea I drunk.
To bore the readder less, I have learnt that when you drink hot beverages and consume mouth scalding foodstuffs, they do at least two dangerous things to you.
1. You cook the thin membrane of your mouth and even throat and because your mouth is not permanently open or is most of the time shut, the meat of your mouth that you have cooked begins to smell. You have voluntarily developed halitosis - bad mouth smell/ and breath.
2. Because you have scalded your throat now and then, that area of it that allows you to swallow (which is mostly delicate muscle) can no longer fully tighten to allow easy, natural, comfortable swallowing. In the evenings, when you aren't thinking much about work and other chores of life, when most of your body is more relaxed than ijn the day - and worse even, when you are in bed and even more fully relaxed, your brain takes your subconsious to your ravaged throat muscle/s and there you are, waking up in a panic. Your throat muscles can no longer 'grab' at liquidy stuff as spittle coursing down it.
I have proven this by reverting to cooler foodstuffs and I have not suffered from my deathly panic of yondr times.
This is my humble contribution to all that have suffered from the dastardly problem. I know that there must be other causes for it but it is likely the majority of sufferers are drinkers of very hot beverages and steaming foods.
People with tender throats (as a result of the hot foodstuffs probably) may find another problem after drinking tea with lemon grass in it. Lemon grass has those tiny hairs - obugimbi - (wich in a slight way work like the nettle bushes' or even like a bee's dischargable sting - oruvuli - which embed themselves in soft tissue (the throat) and may give one a swallowing nightmare. I've suffered from lemon grass (the nicest-smelling dry tea spice I ever tasted.
Kindly passs this on to your readers to see if a number may get over this serious problem.
Lieutenant Colonel Ulysses Chuka Kibuuka, Uganda Peoples' defence Forces, Kampala, Uganda..