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Lung diseases

Could not draw a breath at all

08/14/2009

Question:

Hello,

I am a 42 yr old male and as such have probably swallowed wrong at least a hundred times through out my life. Last night while at work I swallowed wrong(my saliva)and when I went to draw a breath could not get even one molecule of Oxygen. I could neither cough nor inhale. I tried about 4 more times to draw breath and literally could not get any air at all, I was working alone and it was about midnight I bolted out the front of my shop and headed for another shop thinking I would try to alert someone before I passed out. about 10 feet before I banged on the neighbors door, I began to choke and gag and my eyes began watering, all the things I expected to happen right after I swallowed wrong. This has never happened before and has me a little concerned. Is this something I should be worried about or is it more than likely a one time occurrence? Also any suggestions if it should happen again? Thanks for your help.

Take care,

Answer:

The episode you are describing sounds like a laryngospasm, where your vocal cords closed tightly in response to the saliva being pulled into the breathing passages. Your body will normally temporarily close the vocal cords in situations such as this to prevent foreign objects from entering the trachea and obstructing airflow. When this response is over-exaggerated, it is called a laryngospasm. I would suspect that this was an isolated occurrence, but if it happens again you should discuss it with your physician.

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Response by:

Jennifer  McCallister, MD Jennifer McCallister, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University