**NOTE: This article is not intended to be taken as medical advice. I am not a medical professional.**
My brothers and I have this problem. Every once in a while when we are eating, food gets stuck down in our throat. This food plug does not block our airway, but every time we swallow, what’s stuck doesn’t go down. Needless to say it’s very uncomfortable. Dashing off to the men’s room to stick your fingers down your throat to engage the gag mechanism at Chez Gourmet isn’t exactly classy. Besides that, people might mistake this response to a form of bulimia.
The worst of these events happened to me one night when we had a group of friends over for dinner. With the wine flowing, the prime rib scruptiously glistening on our forks, it hit me. I could not clear the food out. For an hour I struggled with this. Finally, when they realized what was happening, the only thing preventing them from calling an ambulance was the fact that I could breathe. I just could not swallow. For a minute or two I would be ok, but then I’d gag and, disappear back into the bathroom. Gross right?
The night labored on. Eventually, after 2 hours of this, I began to think that maybe I needed to go to the hospital. Then I recalled that my brother went to the hospital for the same thing. They used a pair of forceps to reach down into his throat and extract the food plug. Forceps? What did I have in the house that was like forceps? How about needle nose pliers? This just shows how desperate I was.
You don’t realize how heavy and bulky needle nose pliers are until you’re trying to shove them down your own throat to blindly locate something you’ve eaten. Don’t do this. Not only is it ineffective, you can easily chip a tooth. Besides when my wife came into the bathroom and saw me like this… well.. let’s just say it wasn’t my finest moment.
So nothing is working. I’m laying on the bed. I’m standing on my head. I’m taking tiny sips of water. Nothing. Finally, I open my laptop and Googled the problem. My initial reluctance about Googling the font of all knowledge was that in searching for choking, I assumed would bring up giving someone or myself the heimlich maneuver. Not what I needed. Food was not blocking my airway.
Finally, I came across this video. I watched it. I tried what the guy recommended you do, and BLAMMO! The food plug cleared. It was a miracle. I fell back in bed, finally able to swallow again, my heart rate, returning to normal. My wife and I hugged, and kissed. Then I hugged and kissed my laptop.
Today when I have this same problem, I execute this guy’s little move. You do it by pressing your chin back, down towards the back of your throat. At the same time, attempt to swallow again. Get a Coke or fizzy drink. Do the same thing. Press the chin. Try and swallow. Relax. Think about the food going down. This method also works while you’re still at the table and don’t want anyone to know that you’ve got another sticker.
UPDATE: May 4th, 2021 unfortunately the video has been removed from Youtube. I am NOT giving medical advice here. Even using this method I’ve had to go to the emergency room 3x in the past 4 years. Since my last esophageal stretch, and since I radically altered my diet to remove meat, I’ve been MUCH better. Go see your doctor about this. Maybe consider becoming a vegetarian. (though shrimp can be stickers too). It’s hard on the family to have to drive you to the hospital while you spit saliva into a cup the whole way.
For more information about this condition, read here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dysphagia/basics/causes/con-20033444. Do you have this problem? Let us know.