Spit Or Swallow

I’ve had a problem with swallowing, for a good many years. It usually went like this. I’d begin to eat dinner (it was usually dinner) and after the first few mouthfuls I would feel the food getting stuck, like there was an obstruction deep in the tubes.

I tried various things to clear it. Waking back and forth, jumping up and down, running in a circle, lying on the floor. Nothing helped. I discovered that drinking water just made it worse, as it piled up after the obstruction and almost suffocated me.

throat3In one of those situations I couldn’t swallow saliva either, and had to spit it out. You’d be amazed by how much spit your body actually produces. Fucking buckets of it.

It lasted about twenty minutes and then, quite suddenly, the obstruction would simply vanish, as if nothing had happened. And everything was normal again. Except that I didn’t really feel like finishing my dinner.

It drove me mad. My son got used to seeing me stomping around the flat during dinner, thumping on my chest, wheezing for air and swearing like a sailor. For years I thought it was because I ate too fast, so I tried eating slower, but it still occasionally happened. It began to feel like a curse. Perhaps God was punishing me for being right in all those theological arguments. Or just for being so damn good-looking.

Then, a few years ago I discovered, because of hay fever, that I now had food allergies, mainly to carrots, apples and hazelnuts. I decided the swallowing problem was an allergic reaction in my throat and tried avoiding suspect foods. That didn’t help much either. It still happened, even with foods I knew I had no problem with.


Finally, after a lot of research, I realised it might be some kind of acid reflux. The first few mouthfuls, upon reaching an empty stomach, might cause acid to rise and make the tubes swell up. I figured water might help. And, what do you know, it did.

Now if I begin to eat and feel the obstruction happening, I run to the sink and drink a lot water really fast, before the swelling has become too bad. There is a moment of sharp pain, and then nothing. Tubes open, problem solved.

So the solution, after all my worry and effort and discomfort, was simply to drink a nice, cold and totally free glass of water.

How nice it would be if all of life’s problem’s were so easy to solve.

 / paddy


18 thoughts on “Spit Or Swallow

  1. Welcome to the world of acid reflux, my friend. No problems swallowing saliva when trying to fall asleep?

    Omeprazole has also been an enormous help for me.

    • Not that I’ve noticed. However I’m just waiting for more things to start failing as I age. I expect that one will be along soon enough.

    • Man, do I wish there was a club! Would have saved me a lot of trouble. I guess I could have gone to a doctor but, well, you know how that usually goes.

  2. I went to a doctor with a very similar problem and acid reflux was the first thing he suggested, as being one of the most common causes.

      • In my case, the problem I had was difficulty of swallowing pills and small pieces of food (not uncommon, I know, but completely new to me so I worried a little), and as far as we could tell, it was related to muscular tension problems. It started at the same time as I started to get tension headaches, and it went away when the muscular training I was advised to do got rid of the tension headaches.

  3. Glad you guys found a workaround! I have another duct problem. The last thing I eat often sticks in my craw and won’t slide down for hours. It’s particularly difficult with pills, melon and uncooked bell pepper. Can’t be flushed down with liquids.

  4. A success story of self medication! I’m glad it worked out for you, Paddy.

    It just struck me that visiting a doctor is the extreme example of self medication. First you have to find a doctor, then you experiment with yourself (accepting doctor’s orders). If you survive, you try another doctor.

    I could give examples of both very good doctors and very bad doctors.

    Anyway, don’t yell “Heal, boy, heal!” to your doctor…


      • > My rules is: male doctor bad, female doctor good.
        > Male doctors tend to be arrogant pricks, in my experience.

        Could be because you are a male yourself, and thus to be relegated to a lower position in the pack.

        There is of course the occasional bad female doctor, too. If you were a woman, perhaps your experience would be a little bit different. Concerning male and female doctors both.

  5. Was very happy to see the word “gobshite” on dn.se
    Made my day actually. I haven’t seen it since I read the Examiner on a regular basis, fair play to you!

    • Yeah I saw that one in the searches … and I probably should. There’s no discomfort swallowing though, and it happens very rarely.

  6. Here I am, late to the party. Carl Sagan had something called achalasia — he used to (I’ve read) get up in the middle of a meal to bounce up and down to try to get the food to go down. But you mention that didn’t work out for you…which is kind of a shame, considering how fun you’d be to eat with.

    • I tried the bouncing up and down, but it turns out that a nice glass of water at the correct moment works a treat. I did bounce up and down rather a lot though.

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