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Wierd Unusal Swallowing Problems


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Every once in a while, I will have this wierd symptom that has to do with the swallowing reflex in the head. I'm not sure how it works, but sometimes I will have difficulty getting myself to swallow because of some reflex reaction (something felt near the back of my head) that I'm assuming is not quite relaxing enough to allow the swallowing reflex. I get it like I said only once in a while, and I have to concentrate more on swallowing. That's the best I can do to explain it. Can anyone here possibly relate to this? I don't believe it is caused my swelling or anything in my throat.

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Yes, I can relate. I have spent weeks, even months at a time being very conscious of my swallowing. I would describe it as slow or difficult. I am being evaluated for mast cell activation disorder, related to POTS. Benadryl helps relieve this feeling for me. Maybe try that and see if it helps.

Julie

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Yes, I can relate. I have spent weeks, even months at a time being very conscious of my swallowing. I would describe it as slow or difficult. I am being evaluated for mast cell activation disorder, related to POTS. Benadryl helps relieve this feeling for me. Maybe try that and see if it helps.

Julie

Mack's Mom- What kind of doctor is evaluating you for this? BTW, I have a Mack, too! :blink:

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Hi Michelle,

Aren't Mack's wonderful :blink: ??? I wish I could say that any allergist could evaluate for mast cell activation disorder, but unfortunately, that's not true. MCAD is a relatively new idsorder and not even recognized by some allergists. Link on to the Mastocytosis Society to learn more.

www.tmsforacure.org

I'm being evaluated by Dr. Maria Castells at Brigham and Women's in Boston.

Julie

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I can relate to that. Sometimes it takes 4 tries for me to get something down. I'm always afraid I will choke. It feels like, for a moment, like I've forgotten how to swallow. The times it happened to me I was on anti seizure med. I wondered if I was over medicated & stopped taking it.

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Hello all ,

Yes I to have to concentrate at time in swallowing , its almost as if I've forgotten how to .............. :blink: which of course is utter nonsense as its something we all do without thinking , but think I have to when suddenly I find 'I cant get food to go down my throat' and yes, I to choke , tears streaming down my face and coughing etc.

This then in turn 'kicks off' my voice loss , as I've said before in another post , I sound rather like a teenage boy going through puberty when this happens :huh: most alarming and disconcerting for me .................yet most amusing for all around me :P especially hubby who has now taken to speaking in the same low, gruff voice with high pitched squeaks in it :angry: .

But he claims in talking like this he is helping me to feel less conspicuous , after all if we are both talking like lunatics it doesn't sound quite so strange ............................mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, still thinking about that one !

Anyhow, I've found that with the chocking ( especially in public) just concentrate on what your doing , dont give a monkeys about the people around you looking at you . I close my eye's so I cant see any stupid people staring at me when I do this , which helps no end.

So if hubby's with me and I go into one of my 'chocking to death spasms' as we call them now! I try not to swallow whats in my mouth ,but cough it up into a napkin and chuck it , then have a drink of COLD water or even better I've found that a COLD fizzy drink slowly sipped and swallowed over a period of 2 -3 minutes , the bubbles almost massage the bits in my throat that seem to cause the problems and the coldness , is I've managed to scratch my throat is heaven !

Another thing I do if I'm having a really bad day of choking and my voice going up and down is to eat ice -cream, somehow the coldness of the stuff helps me to eat 'normal foods ' in between , but having said that you will possibly look a bit strange if whilst in a restaurant you are eating pizza with spoons of ice cream in between each mouthful ...........or even better as I've done recently , ice cream between forkfuls of cod and chips !!! I did get some rather strange looks :blink:

I'm having a speak therapist over to my home next Wednesday to help me with my voice dropping off and hopefully my swallowing problems as well .

I've now had my throat checked out and my swallowing mechanism at the hospital , talk about a room full of specialists !!!!!

I must have had at least 8 people all crammed into this x-ray unit while I swallowed various liquids, semi-solids and half -solids. The problem was that all this was done at 9 am in the morning and as I explained to them all 'its as the day goes on that my swallowing and voice problems start , at 9 am in the morning , unless I get VERY stressed out I can cope '

I do hope that you can get some help Jbrain00 it is a worry problem , but at least you now know your not alone .

Keep your chin up kind regards. Willows.

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Hi!

I am kinda working to respond to peoples posts... I have thought of a lot of things I wanted to add, but haven't had the time or energy. So, hopefully I will get around to some of it soon! :P

But, I wanted to add to this post some info. that I thought could help. First, I wanted to put on the disclaimer that it is from Wikipedia (which, I tend to go to first, because it is more straightforward and easy to read, but before taking any of the info. 100% make sure to get info. from a credible source.)

Also, just because this may or not fit for yourself, I am not a dr. :angry: and there could be many other explanations than this one.

But, in taking an impromptu refresher course on the the Vagus Nerve, I thought some of the info. helped me with my overall understanding and that others may find it useful as well.

Vagus has innervations to swallowing, voice, breathing etc. muscles along with the heart. So, I guess it would stand to reason that if we can have overstimulation of Vagus to the heart that we could have it to other muscles and organs as well.

"The vagus nerve supplies motor parasympathetic fibers to all the organs except the suprarenal (adrenal) glands, from the neck down to the second segment of the transverse colon. The vagus also controls a few skeletal muscles, namely:

Cricothyroid muscle

Levator veli palatini muscle

Salpingopharyngeus muscle

Palatoglossus muscle

Palatopharyngeus muscle

Superior, middle and inferior pharyngeal constrictors

Muscles of the larynx (speech).

This means that the vagus nerve is responsible for such varied tasks as heart rate, gastrointestinal peristalsis, sweating, and quite a few muscle movements in the mouth, including speech (via the recurrent laryngeal nerve) and keeping the larynx open for breathing. It also receives some sensation from the outer ear, via the Auricular branch (also known as Alderman's nerve) and part of the meninges.

Effects of vagus nerve lesions

The patient complains of hoarse voice, difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) and choking when drinking fluid. There is also loss of gag reflex. Uvula deviates away from the side of lesion and there is failure of palate elevation."

So, I guess my point is that many of these "odd" symptoms kind of make sense when looked at from this angle. But, there can be other explanations as well.

Hope that helps somewhat, and if you continue to experience symptoms make sure to discuss it with your dr. :blink:

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Me again! :P

I wanted to add that along with Vagus being a motor nerve it also relays sensory info. back to the brain. So, if the sensation is off for example in the mouth, then swallowing could then be affected as well, if the body is not getting all the appropriate signals.

"Definition of Vagus nerve

Vagus nerve: A remarkable nerve that supplies nerve fibers to the pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), lungs, heart, esophagus, and the intestinal tract as far as the transverse portion of the colon. The vagus nerve also brings sensory information back to the brain from the ear, tongue, pharynx, and larynx.

The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve. It originates in the medulla oblongata, a part of the brain stem, and wanders all the way down from the brainstem to the colon."

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I think this is a POTS symptoms. I have it also (and I have nothing but POTS in terms of chronic illness). For me, it's like things go down slowly, I can feel it as though there isn't enough space in my throat, etc. I just don't eat when it gets like that. Usually it happens when I'm really POTSy (i.e. dizzy, just had an episode, tired). It also happens almost every night. I just don't eat at night. I also found that when I DO dare to eat at those times (which is soooo uncomfortable), I cannot digest the food further down the GI track either (i.e., I'll get constipated).

I made sense of this symptom this way: the GI track is suppose to work involuntarily to move food down the various tubery (asophegus, small intestine, large intestine)--but for us those involuntary muscles do not coordinate or contract the way they should. I know that to be a POTS problem, or a possible one (everyone has damage in slightly different areas of the ANS nerves after all).

The only thing I found to help (like when I HAVE to take my pill at a time when I cannot swallow well) is to sit down and relax. That seems to help. Of course, there's a choking feeling when things go down so slowly. To the natural reflex is to tighten up and cough. Just need to do the opposite. Relax and just remember that this is normal for your system. It will go down (maybe with a little extra water).

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Also wanted to add that I have a sister-in-law and a cousin who both do NOT have POTS, but they do have acid reflux for many years. They both got to a point where the acid had scarred and tightened the asophogus near the cardiac sphyncter (sp? no idea). So they required surgery to enlarge (using a baloony thing) the asophogus. They would sometimes choke on their food, like it would get stuck near the stomach, past the place where the windpipe and asophogus cross. So they could breathe, but they couldn't swallow anything else. X-rays showed the food lodged there, and endoscopy confirmed the asophogus was just too narrow to allow large bits of food (such as red meats) to pass.

So I guess there are a few possiblities besides POTS.

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Hi!

I am kinda working to respond to peoples posts... I have thought of a lot of things I wanted to add, but haven't had the time or energy. So, hopefully I will get around to some of it soon! :P

But, I wanted to add to this post some info. that I thought could help. First, I wanted to put on the disclaimer that it is from Wikipedia (which, I tend to go to first, because it is more straightforward and easy to read, but before taking any of the info. 100% make sure to get info. from a credible source.)

Also, just because this may or not fit for yourself, I am not a dr. :angry: and there could be many other explanations than this one.

But, in taking an impromptu refresher course on the the Vagus Nerve, I thought some of the info. helped me with my overall understanding and that others may find it useful as well.

Vagus has innervations to swallowing, voice, breathing etc. muscles along with the heart. So, I guess it would stand to reason that if we can have overstimulation of Vagus to the heart that we could have it to other muscles and organs as well.

"The vagus nerve supplies motor parasympathetic fibers to all the organs except the suprarenal (adrenal) glands, from the neck down to the second segment of the transverse colon. The vagus also controls a few skeletal muscles, namely:

Cricothyroid muscle

Levator veli palatini muscle

Salpingopharyngeus muscle

Palatoglossus muscle

Palatopharyngeus muscle

Superior, middle and inferior pharyngeal constrictors

Muscles of the larynx (speech).

This means that the vagus nerve is responsible for such varied tasks as heart rate, gastrointestinal peristalsis, sweating, and quite a few muscle movements in the mouth, including speech (via the recurrent laryngeal nerve) and keeping the larynx open for breathing. It also receives some sensation from the outer ear, via the Auricular branch (also known as Alderman's nerve) and part of the meninges.

Effects of vagus nerve lesions

The patient complains of hoarse voice, difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) and choking when drinking fluid. There is also loss of gag reflex. Uvula deviates away from the side of lesion and there is failure of palate elevation."

So, I guess my point is that many of these "odd" symptoms kind of make sense when looked at from this angle. But, there can be other explanations as well.

Hope that helps somewhat, and if you continue to experience symptoms make sure to discuss it with your dr. :blink:

Thank you for the information about the vagus nerve. I did go to the wikipedia site to read about it. I did see under the effects of vagus nerve lesions difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia). I then looked up dysphagia and read the following:

Other problems include not being able to start the swallowing reflex (a stimulus that allows food and liquids to move safely through the pharynx) because of a stroke or other nervous system disorder. People with these kinds of problems are unable to begin the muscle movements that allow food to move from the mouth to the stomach.

That seemed to accurately describe the mechanism related to swallowing symptoms I have sometimes. But I should mention that I only experience this sensation upon occasion and it hasn't turned into a problem with the actual swallowing. I only feel for a split second that I might not be able to swallow, then I take breath and I'm always able to swallow when I try again. I found drinking water helps a little when I do experience that sensation. Most definitely my problem has neurological origins related to beginning the swallowing reflex (or the reflex is delayed). So I'm assuming this is related to POTS because of the sensitivity with the vagus nerve? Where did you find out about this vagus nerve thing belonging to POTS?

I have also had a stuttering problem since childhood. Do you think this problem could be related to the vagus nerve as well?

Thanks,

James

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  • 5 months later...

Sometimes I have difficulty swallowing and wonder if it is a POTS thing. I tell myself it's not as bad as I'm 'feeling' - like when I'm drinking something and can't swallow, it's just liquid, it has to go down.

But that doesn't always help a lot!

I was searching because today I'm having this issue again...it's on and off. My throat can feel a bit tight, have to work to swallow, etc. It comes and goes and is frustrating.

Anyone found out anything about this since the last post?

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Growing up I thought this was normal---it hasn't become a problem with eating for me yet but it's annoying! I have to like focus on swallowing, and it's so difficult to get it started sometimes.

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Cat Lady,

I've since learned that I do have mast cell activation disorder (MCAD). It's a cause of POTS. Since taking lots of antihistamines (H-1 and H-2 blockers), I rarely have trouble swallowing now. I secretly suspect that many here may have unDXed MCAD. Try taking an OTC zyrtec and see if your swallowing issues improve.

All the best-

Julie

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Mac's Mom -

I take Allegra right now and a Benadryl for Hives/Emergencies (allergic to nuts) but then I'm horribly Potsy for two days after the darn Benadryl now. It never used to bother me, either.

I have been wondering about the Mast Cell stuff because I've always had bad allergies, random hives, the other day a new blush caused a severe rash on my face (within a minute of putting it on) and have to use prescription hydrocortisone cream for two weeks.

Reading some web sites, the best method to test for this is a bone marrow test. That scares me. I already have a bunch of tests to do before Dr. Grubb (sleep study, food allergy tests, etc) and this would be another big one and, well, scary.

How did you get diagnosed? It's interesting this could all be related to the swallowing issues too!

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