A very scary incident

Hi ,

I’ve just had a really scary swallowing incident. I do have mild swallowing issues but nothing major.

I just choked on a mouthful of water, which caused a coughing fit, but then my airway closed up and I couldn’t breathe. I’d stopped coughing but my airway just wouldn’t open. I managed to force a tiny amount of air in, it all lasted about 10 seconds (felt like longer) .

I’ve had coughing fits before but nothing like this, it has really scared the heck out of me.

Has anyone else had this happen ?


hiya june

is this similar? i have throat spasms which look like i am choking but theres nothing in my mouth to choke on. i have these regularly and yes they are scary to experience and to watch. mine last up to 2 minutes at their height then gradually diminish.

speech therapist taught my how cope with them…dont panic-easier said than done but that does tighten the area and does make it worse. i imagine throat is relaxed and i am breathing naturally. know that it will pass. i have a code-thumb up means hit my back as i am choking. thumb down means dont as is a spasm-there is no way that i can talk during these episodes.

hope this helps and its a long time before it happens again for you (if ever) ellie

1 Like

Good advice from Ellie

Unfortunately I have problems with swallowing when eating, every week.

Feels like food is stuck in my throat, even though I chew it well, keep calm, stand up, sip some liquid and it passes.

It is known as Dyshagia ( learned that today) and according to MS trust affects 1 in 3 people with MS

There is lots of advice on the internet on Dyshagia or MS sites for swallowing and you can get medical advice.

Nuisance this MS. you are not alone



Hi June,

I’ve just joined the forum. I was diagnosed about 18 months ago. Your post was the first thing i’ve read here. I joined because I’m having trouble swallowing liquids and I wanted to find out if anyone knew of something that might help. I sympathise with your experience as that has happened to me many times. I think it has been scarier for those near me, as the wheezing sounds as you struggle for breath can be quite un-nerving (and of course you can’t speak so the coded signals are a good idea chocorange!) but i’ve not panicked fortunately because somehow you can feel inside yourself that it will pass.

I really hope that it doesn’t happen to you again because it can be very frightening. Good luck.

1 Like

18 years from diagnosis I have started to notice an occasional blip in swallowing and it can be frightful at times - all in the game of MS


Thank you all,

I’m going to contact my speech therapist and MS nurse because this one really scared me.

MS is so much fun , isn’t it…and I’ve been doing so well recently :frowning:


June it’s called laryngospasm and is a reflexive ‘snapping shut’ of the vocal cords which as you recognise, completely close off the airway. In this respect it is a totally normal part of the body’s ‘safety mechanism’ to try to prevent anything other than air from entering the lungs, and can and does happen to anyone regardless of any underlying conditions.

It is terrifying though - and it activates an enormous surge of adrenaline which can leave you feeling terrible and quite shaken afterwards.

I’ve just googled laryngospasm and now I’m really worried, some of the articles talk about passing out and even fatalities.

It’s life threatening when it occurs in a patient during or immediately post heavy sedation or general anaesthesia because the normal nerve-muscle communication is blocked, and is one of the key reasons why we need breathing tubes going through the vocal cords into the trachea when having an operation or when sedated in ICU (I’m an ICU nurse).

Outside that, it’s an experience most people will have during normal everyday life but very rarely. I can still remember the last time it happened to me - I was at work and eating sweet (as usual!) that made my mouth water a lot and a drop of saliva must’ve dropped onto my vocal cords from the back of my mouth. Within ten seconds I was breathing adequately again but my goodness it was utterly terrifying.

I was scared it would happen again last winter when I had three months of one sided numbness in my face, including my mouth, meaning that I kept biting the inside of my cheek and coughing and spluttering every day when eating and drinking. Thankfully I didn’t get another proper laryngospasm again.

What I was trying to say is that it’s a protective reflex that the body does, like a cough or sneeze, but a little more ‘full on’ and deeply unpleasant to experience. But homeostasis is a wonderful thing and the vocal cords’ natural state is to be relaxed and floppy and it is safe to assume they will easily return to that condition quickly after a spasm.


Hello June again.

Speak to your MS nurse who will put your mind at rest.

You need to take some comments with a pinch of salt and ignore them.



If that’s directed at me? Dysphagia and laryngospasm are two different phenomena.

Agree wholeheartedly with June relaying what she experienced to her MS nurse and SALT for further information and support from those who know her condition personally.

1 Like