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hyperactive gag reflex

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I've always had a hyperactive gag reflex ever since I was little. I have really bad allergies and constant post nasal drip. I am in karate and I used to do track. The problem is whenever I running or doing something physical, I cannot do it to my full ability because my gag reflex triggers and I have to stop and suppress it. What triggers it off is the post nasal drip. I figured that when I am exercising I am breathing in more quickly and harder which causes the mucous to drip down faster. Once it gets triggered off I usually have to swallow hard to push all that mucous down. This is really a big problem because in track I could barely run two laps without that kicking in and causing me to stop. Because of that, I could only do the 100 yard dash because I couldn't do anything else that involves me running in a longer amount of time. Same thing happens in karate when we are doing cardio.

I've taken swimming lessons a few months before to learn how to swim and it gave me a problem there because when I breath out underwater it get triggered to. I've never been able to swim completely across the pool without having to continuously stop because of this. It also made it difficult learning how to properly do the different strokes because I'd have to keep stopping and grab the wall so I don't gag underwater and drown.

If you try to stick your finger or something down your throat you will feel your gag reflex kick in to avoid that. That's exactly how it feels because of the constant mucous dripping down. This doesn't happen only when I am exercising. I can still feel it when I am just sitting but its not as exaggerated as it would be if I am doing something physical.

For at least a year, I've been to a few doctors. One said I have a hyperactive gag reflex and I just had to live with it, another doctor barely examined me and just said it was possible that the post nasal drip was triggering it off (all of this I already know). I went to another doctor in philly a few weeks ago.

She scoped the inside of my nose and back of my throat. She saw that I had a lot of adenoid tissue. She then suggested that the gag reflex was being triggered by my acid reflux instead of the post nasal drip so she gave me another prescription for Omeprozol and flonase for my nose.

I do have acid reflux which was determined early this year and I understand how it could affect the gag reflex but I do not agree that that is whats causing it to be so sensitive. I've had this problem longer than I've had acid reflux and if it really were reflux I would feel the acid coming up and irritating my throat.

Obviously the post nasal drip is whats causing this but there shouldn't be any reason that my gag reflex is THAT sensitive to where it affects me when I exercise.

I begin researching adenoids and I have found one post on another message board where a doctor stated that "In children, enlarged adenoids and tonsils are leading causes for hypersensitive gag reflex." When I was younger a doctor wanted to take out my adenoids because they were big but my dad didn't do it because he read of some of the complications of having it done at such a young age.

Does anyone know anything about adenoids affecting the gag reflex like it does mine? I've researched the web and didn't find much about it accept one or two places where adenoids was mentioned along with the gag reflex. If anyone knows anything please respond.
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replied August 3rd, 2009
Kyle - I have a very similar problem, triggered by excerise and seemingly by nothing at all. A few years ago I was prescribed prevacid and told that it was acid reflux (b/c mine seems to also be triggered by red wine and coffee), but the prevacid did not seem to help at all. Recently, I have started using Veramyst, the nasal spray, and it definitely seems to help. I am still working toward a full diagnosis, so far my alergist seems to be on the right track though he has concluded that it is not algergies that cause the reaction.

Good luck.
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replied November 11th, 2009
I have had the same problem for years. Exactly as described. I have acid reflux and the episodes are triggered by post-nasal drip, combined with fatigue (due to exertion). Has anyone tried to eliminate the mucus drip in the back of the throat? Is that possible?
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replied October 20th, 2010
My 10 year ols son is experiencing the same symptoms as you Kyle and I am desperately looking for answers. Have you found relief yet? Barb sackles
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replied March 10th, 2011
Kyle, I used to have the same problem. While I never cured it, I found a way to deal with it. In the morning right after I get up, I drink a couple glasses of water, and then I usually feel like throwing up (I eat a Tums first, so the acid doesn't hurt my esophagus). Usually a blob of mucus comes up, and I feel suddenly better. And I don't have the gagging feeling the rest of the day anymore. It must have something to do with mucus building up in the stomach (even though it feels like it's in your throat).
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replied March 25th, 2011
Hypnosis,
Hello, I have suffered from what i now know is this condition, i have neen to specialists and they have told me it is a phycological issue and nothing medical,
so i tryed a self hypnosis mp3 download, i have always been the kind of person who thinks that hypnosis is a load of rubbbish but tryed it as a last resort, suprisingly it worked, the mp3 lasts around 35 mins and put me into a weird sort of half asleep half awake state, i only used this once and it has made abig difference, this makes me think that having a propper hypnosis set of sessions would seriously fix this problem, after a bit a research i found hypnosis sessions for around £60 a session, so im going to do it when i get the money, but for now the self hypnosis is truely amazing, however i think dealing with this condition is alot to do with beliving u can get past it, the download was about 12 dollers, as im from england it was about 8 quid, and is genuinly worth a go, also its nice to know its not just me that has and hopefully will overcome this crappy problem, good luck to u all,
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replied January 7th, 2012
Hyperactive Gag Reflex with Post Nasal Drip and/or GERD
I have a family history of hyperactive gag reflex. And while it seems to affect the women in my family most, that may not be statistically relevant. I have GERD and rumination syndrome that are well controlled with medications, diet, and behavior modifications. My tonsils were removed at age 21, at which point my adenoids had substantially shrunk during adolescence (normal). And while I had wicked allergies as a child, there are very few things that trigger an allergic response in me today (at age 62). Nevertheless, I have persistent post nasal drip that frequently triggers my gag reflex. I have not noticed that modern-day antihistamines are effective in reducing the PND. This gag reflex also kicks in (big time) any time I eat a fresh leafy salad. Right now, I'm suffering from a minor cold, so convulsive gagging occurs day and night. It DEFINITELY helps to minimize the post nasal drip and runny nose, but those steps do not eliminate the gagging/choking/coughing episodes. While I greatly respect the importance of mind-body integration, I am really, truly certain that this is NOT a psychological condition that can be cured by hypnosis (I've practiced self-hypnosis for decades). I think that what we all need (based on what I've read here) is something that effectively stops post nasal drip from triggering the hyperactive gag reflex. I'd be content with a medication that stopped the PND or the reflex.
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replied March 2nd, 2012
Child with gagging cough
I am desperately trying to find answers for my five year old! We have been dealing with this same thing since he was two! He has had his adenoids out at 2 1/2 and just recently tonsils removed. He was cured for almost two months and for a week now is back to this same gagging. The only thing that seems to cure him each time is an antibiotic. I am so tired of medicating my child and can't stand to see him suffer from this gagging to the point he throws up. The ENT and pediatrician just keep telling me allergies and possible asthma. If this is the case than why are all the allergy meds not working and antibiotics work until the next time it starts a week or so after the antibiotic is gone? I need help and answers and can't find them. Please help!
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replied March 2nd, 2012
Gag reflex in young children
So sorry to hear this problem in someone so young. I would be quite worried about the use of antibiotics. They are only appropriate for certain kinds of bacterial infections and frequent use of antibiotics has many undesirable side effects. For one thing, think of what the antibiotics are doing to your young boy's digestive system! In my family, the gag reflex is pervasive among the women of all generations on my mother's side. So, I am pretty sure that it's a combination of anatomical structure, hypersensitivity in the back of the throat, and post nasal drip. Allergy medications are peculiar. The pharmaceutical companies market a variety of antihistamines. My physician told me that one antihistamine might work for a while and then stop working. Which formula will work for your son and for how long can only be learned by experimentation with the limited types of antihistamines that are safe for a 5-year-old. Asthma does not cause gagging, so that's bogus. If you are using one of the very old antihistamines, such as Benadryl(Diphenhydramine), realize that this drug has many side effects, some of which may be controlling your son's gagging symptoms. The primary side effect is that Benadryl blocks the production of acetylcholine. I have used it effectively to reduce nausea symptoms, for example. Notice that antihistamines have generally NOT been tested for use with young children. So, you would need to talk with your pharmacist about the safety of using an antihistamine with your son.
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replied June 14th, 2013
I've had this gagging problem 50 years. My parents made me do all kinds of stressful things that obviously brought it on. went to pcychiatrists, hypnosis, biofeedback, had tonsils removed, a swallow study, and a few different medications. Only thing that has helped so far is a strong antihistamine called cyproheptadine. It makes me sleepy, but I can manage most stressful things. Here is my best suggestion: Don't force yourself to do stressful things that bring it on. Since I've adapted my lifestyle, I feel so much better, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Work or school, the best thing to do is go ahead and have the gagging 'fit' and get it over with. You'll finally get to where it gets better and you condition yourself to doing things you absolutely must do. Don't torture people with this affliction and they'll love you for it.
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replied June 14th, 2013
I've had this gagging problem 50 years. My parents made me do all kinds of stressful things that obviously brought it on. went to pcychiatrists, hypnosis, biofeedback, had tonsils removed, a swallow study, and a few different medications. Only thing that has helped so far is a strong antihistamine called cyproheptadine. It makes me sleepy, but I can manage most stressful things. Here is my best suggestion: Don't force yourself to do stressful things that bring it on. Since I've adapted my lifestyle, I feel so much better, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Work or school, the best thing to do is go ahead and have the gagging 'fit' and get it over with. You'll finally get to where it gets better and you condition yourself to doing things you absolutely must do. Don't torture people with this affliction and they'll love you for it.
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replied June 14th, 2013
I've had this gagging problem 50 years. My parents made me do all kinds of stressful things that obviously brought it on. went to pcychiatrists, hypnosis, biofeedback, had tonsils removed, a swallow study, and a few different medications. Only thing that has helped so far is a strong antihistamine called cyproheptadine. It makes me sleepy, but I can manage most stressful things. Here is my best suggestion: Don't force yourself to do stressful things that bring it on. Since I've adapted my lifestyle, I feel so much better, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Work or school, the best thing to do is go ahead and have the gagging 'fit' and get it over with. You'll finally get to where it gets better and you condition yourself to doing things you absolutely must do. Don't torture people with this affliction and they'll love you for it.
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replied December 9th, 2012
PND & hyperactive gag reflux
My almost 3 year old has this same exact problem. As a newborn, she constantly spit up her formula but I didn't think anything of it. Then as we started her on baby foods, she would constantly gag, most of the time resulting in throwing up. So, from about 5 months old-2 years old, she has thrown up at least once a day. I am worried about damage to her throat from all of the vomiting. The doctors have told me the same, acid reflux. But the medications don't help. I've also heard possible asthma, although she signs no signs of that. Her post nasal drip is a constant factor. I can never keep her little face clean because of her 24/7 runny nose. The schools always think she is sick with the runny nose, coughing and gagging. I'm at such a loss and desperate for a real treatment.
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replied January 26th, 2013
My 1 year old son has had the exact same problem for two months!!! I'm so desperate for a solution. I'm using colloidal silver,vit D,acidophilus tea tree oil drops on his shoulder(for clear breathing) vit C and garlic oil. He also has an ear infection but I think the one is aggravating the other..which one tho, I'm not sure.
I have had the same problem all my life but I thought it was psychological. I know I have post nasal drip and allergies,tho I have no tonsils or adenoids.
When I see him go thru the gagging/choking/vomiting I know exactly what he's going thru. But I don't know what to do to help. I control mind most of the time by sheer willpower. I can't teach that to a baby.
I wish there was a solution.
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replied June 14th, 2013
I've had this gagging problem 50 years. My parents made me do all kinds of stressful things that obviously brought it on. went to pcychiatrists, hypnosis, biofeedback, had tonsils removed, a swallow study, and a few different medications. Only thing that has helped so far is a strong antihistamine called cyproheptadine. It makes me sleepy, but I can manage most stressful things. Here is my best suggestion: Don't force yourself to do stressful things that bring it on. Since I've adapted my lifestyle, I feel so much better, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Work or school, the best thing to do is go ahead and have the gagging 'fit' and get it over with. You'll finally get to where it gets better and you condition yourself to doing things you absolutely must do. Don't torture people with this affliction and they'll love you for it.
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replied June 14th, 2013
I've had this gagging problem 50 years. My parents made me do all kinds of stressful things that obviously brought it on. went to pcychiatrists, hypnosis, biofeedback, had tonsils removed, a swallow study, and a few different medications. Only thing that has helped so far is a strong antihistamine called cyproheptadine. It makes me sleepy, but I can manage most stressful things. Here is my best suggestion: Don't force yourself to do stressful things that bring it on. Since I've adapted my lifestyle, I feel so much better, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Work or school, the best thing to do is go ahead and have the gagging 'fit' and get it over with. You'll finally get to where it gets better and you condition yourself to doing things you absolutely must do. Don't torture people with this affliction and they'll love you for it.
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replied June 14th, 2013
I've had this gagging problem 50 years. My parents made me do all kinds of stressful things that obviously brought it on. went to pcychiatrists, hypnosis, biofeedback, had tonsils removed, a swallow study, and a few different medications. Only thing that has helped so far is a strong antihistamine called cyproheptadine. It makes me sleepy, but I can manage most stressful things. Here is my best suggestion: Don't force yourself to do stressful things that bring it on. Since I've adapted my lifestyle, I feel so much better, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Work or school, the best thing to do is go ahead and have the gagging 'fit' and get it over with. You'll finally get to where it gets better and you condition yourself to doing things you absolutely must do. Don't torture people with this affliction and they'll love you for it.
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replied August 16th, 2013
I have been struggling with the same problem. Even brushing the back of my teeth can set it off. I went to see my primary care physician. He told me acid reflux. I had an endoscopy done and according to my doctor, when someone has a lot of acid reflux, the acid can actually start to "scratch" the larynx, and that is what causes the gagging and the overly sensitive gag reflex. Since then, I've been taking some reflux medication and watching my diet. It hasn't really been better though. I 'm worried that the damage to my larynx could be permanent and I'll be dealing with this for the rest of my life Sad
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