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Old 02-26-2007, 08:49 AM   #1
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Hamilton92 HB UserHamilton92 HB User
Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

I have an extreme fear of choking when I eat that I have almost completely given up eating solid foods.
I have been suffering for almost 3 years now. It started one night when I was eating a salad and felt like everything I had just eaten got stuck in my throat and that I was going to choke to death. I couldn't get the food up or down and I couldn't seem to get liquids to go down very easily so I was convinced something was stuck.
I was too scared to go to the hospital but scared I was going to die.
Since that night, this fear has ruined my life.
I basically live on mushy or soft foods like creamed soup, baked potatoes, cream of wheat, puddings, Ensure, Boost etc..
I don't remember the last time I ate a hamburger or a pizza.
I want to be able to eat again normally and live like a normal person.
Everytime I eat if feels like the food gets stuck and I'm going to choke to death and die.
I have this obsession that I'm going to die now if I try to eat solid foods.
Can someone actually live off of soft foods for their whole life and never eat solid foods again?
I don't have insurance so I can't get the help I need.
I went to a gastroenterologist when I still had medical insurance and all he wanted to do is throw antacids at me which didn't help so I don't take them.
He refused to listen to me and now that I've lost my job to these problems I can't go get a second opinion. I'd love to see a naturopathic doctor but I thin they are pretty expensive and insurance doesn't cover visits for them anyways.
I have lost so much weight. I am now 33 years old, 5'10" and about 128 pounds. I have to gain weight, I want to gain about 10 pounds at least, between 10 and 20 to get back above being underweight. Right now according to a BMI calculator I am about 5 pounds underweight. To get at least to a normal BMI I'll have to gain back 5 pounds or more. I don't want to die. I am so very very scared, its controlling my life, I look at my husband and kids and I just want to be able to grow old with my husband and see my kids grow up and I'm afraid that won't happen. I'm scared that no one will be able to help me and I'm going to die.
What can I do? Does anyone understand me?
Please post I really really need to hear from someone who understands.

 
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Old 02-26-2007, 09:53 AM   #2
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Sannah HB UserSannah HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

Hamilton, what else is going on with you that is making you fearful?

 
Old 03-05-2007, 09:02 AM   #3
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Hamilton92 HB UserHamilton92 HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

Ever since this started I have HUGE anxiety problems. I was told that I could live without ever eating solid foods again as long as I get the proper nutrition I need like my proteins, fiber and all the vitamins and minerals but I don't want to live this way.Everytime I eat I immediately think of choking. I

 
Old 03-05-2007, 10:02 AM   #4
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Sannah HB UserSannah HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

Hamilton, I think that you had anxiety problems before, or something happened right before you started with this swallowing problem which is causing you to have a lot of anxiety.

 
Old 03-14-2007, 04:17 PM   #5
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Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

Hi, I totally understand what you are going through... about 7 years ago I was driving and eating those red gummi swedish fish things, and one got stuck in my throat. I was on the freeway and going really fast, and I totally freaked out...I couldn't breath for like 30 seconds. Well, it seemed that way anyway. After that, I couldn't eat solid foods... especially gummi things... for months. I eventually talked myself out of it and am okay now, but I remember how scary it was. It wasn't just that, though...I have also battled anorexia since I was 12 (I am 33 now), I have had severe anxiety and panic disorder, and an intense fear of dying.. so much that sometimes I woudln't go to sleep because I was afraid that I would die during the night and my kids would find me and not know what to do. (They were younger back then) I don't know how, but eventually I was able to overcome a lot of my fears. I think they all tie in together-- if you have had trouble with anorexia, then maybe your subconscious mind is using the choking as an excuse for you to not eat well. Even if you have overcome your anorexia, maybe you have some unresolved issues that are manifesting as the fear of choking so that you won't have to deal with the real problem. I don't know... I just wanted you to know that I totally understand what you're going through, and there are a lot of other factors that play into it as well.

 
Old 03-15-2007, 02:50 PM   #6
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Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

Hi hamilton. This sounds like something that happened to my youngest daughter when she was 4. She had seen something on TV about someone choking and thought she could choke too. She started to chew her food so thoroughly that it took her an hour and a half to eat a toasted cheese sandwhich and she lost 7 pounds which, at 4, is huge. Anyway, I made an appointment with her pcp who referred her to a child psychologist. We went to the first appointment and never went back. That lady should have been the one seeing a psychologist. LOL. I just ended up talking to my daughter about what she saw on TV and how sometimes your mind can make you think things are going to happen when realistically they PROBABLY won't. I talked about how many people there are in the world and how out of ALL those people hardly anyone ever dies because they choked. And we talked about what she should do if she did choke. Of course I kept this on her level. I really feel it was, in her case, a form of OCD. Might that be your case too?

 
Old 03-16-2007, 07:09 AM   #7
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Isobella HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

Hamilton, before coming to the conclusion that this problem is all in your mind you really need to make sure it isn't a physical problem that could be sorted out. I don't really understand the American health insurance schemes, so don't know how much you can get done without having to pay, but I'll tell you my own experience (I'm in the UK).

I've had a swallowing problem for many years; at first it was only the occasional thing that got stuck and usually when I was eating in a hurry and perhaps not chewing my food properly. But over the years the problem got worse and I found myself getting a piece of food stuck and being unable to get it moved, also unable to swallow liquids when this happened, including at times my own saliva. Most times the food dislodged itself after a period of time, but on four occasions I was so scared that I went to E&R because I really thought I might choke to death. On these occasions I had severe pain in my upper back and chest which I now know was caused by my esophagus going into spasms, though no one told me that at the time. I had doctors look down my throat in E&R but of course they could see nothing as the problem was actually farther down. Mostly they just made me sit and wait to see if the food would move eventually and on every occasion it did, sometimes after being stuck for 8 hours. On one memorable occasion I was actually being prepared for theatre so they could look down properly when the piece of food suddenly moved - was I thankful for that!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was sent for barium swallows, where you drink a nasty thickish liquid while an xray is taken and they watch how the liquid goes down. I had several of these done and they couldn't see any problem. But finally one doctor had the sense to send me for an endoscopy, where they put a little camera down (under sedation) and have a good look around. They discovered I had a stricture (narrowing) of the esophagus, caused by acid reflux which had scarred a portion of my esophagus, and when this was at its worst food was getting stuck. They stretched me (dilated is the medical term) and I now have to take Nexium to prevent the acid doing more damage. My swallowing is much better than before, though I'm still nervous about swallowing and tend to chew my food very carefully - probably not a bad thing, as digestion starts in the mouth. I don't like having to take Nexium and am hoping that eventually I could manage with something like ranitidine, but will discuss that with the consultant who I still see at regular intervals.

Apologies to everyone for this long post on the mental health board, when I suppose it should properly be elsewhere, but I really think any swallowing problem should be properly evaluated before deciding it's not a physical problem. Swallowing difficulties CAN be due to anxiety and tension, but it's hard to know which comes first sometimes, the difficulty or the anxiety. Getting an endoscopy is vital - either they find something that can be treated or they find nothing, in which case the relief of knowing there's no blockage might be enough to allow you to start eating again. There are of course some more complicated causes that need further evaluation, but hopefully yours won't fall into that category. Good luck!

 
Old 04-01-2007, 09:30 AM   #8
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Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

I know precisely what you are going through. I have lived with this situation since an incident when I was 15 (I'm now 42). My family and I were on vacation. It was a very hot day at an amusement park and during lunch I thought a piece of hamburger got stuck in my throat. Little did I know that the incident was to shape the rest of my life.

I don't know to this moment whether there was actually anything stuck in my throat that day. I spent the last three days of our vacation (a 1500 mile drive) certain that I was going to die at every meal. When we returned home, I was fine for a few weeks. I thought it had passed. Then another incident occurred (I thought a piece of taco shell or taco meat) was stuck in my throat. Meat became the focus of my condition. Although, at various times, many foods have been taboo and then become acceptable again.

I lived much of my teens and early 20s on a diet of cream of wheat and instant mashed potatoes. I had one 9 month period (my first year away at college) when I was temporarily able to overcome the problem. This was followed by one of the most intense and frightening three months.

Finally, when I was 25 I wound up in the hospital weighing 98 pounds (I'm 5'9") and unable to even swallow liquid. My electrolytes had crashed and the doctor told me I shouldn't be alive.

After 3 months of intense physical and mental care, I re-entered the world...not cured, but better able to cope.

I've tried counseling and various types of therapies. For me a low, regular dose of Prozac helps keep the edge off. I've identified several foods that I can eat and eat them nearly every day. I take vitamins (crushing them in a pill crusher) to make sure I get nutrients.

After many years of social isolation, career problems, and a family that didn't always understand, my life is wonderful! I have a full time job with a Fortune 40 company, a wife who understands that I take longer to eat and deals with it, and friends who try to understand. I have occasional panic attacks, but if I stick to my routine...they are bearable. I no longer avoid restaurants, vacations, or other things I want to do. I find a way to cope or ask for special food help. Many restaurants will make special things for you if you ask.

My advice (based on much experience).

1. Make sure you don't have an actual physical problem with your swallowing mechanism.
2. Share the issue with others you trust. Many will not understand, but at a human level most people have some unusual problem they don't like to share. Being open about it rather than making it this deep, dark secret is a huge relief. I will often share it with people I know I'm going to have to be with in social/eating situations.
3. Don't avoid restaurants. It makes others uncomfortable. I will go with my wife or friends to a restaurant...though its scary sometimes. I will order the best thing I can find on the menu and do the best I can with it. Often, I will eat meal when we get home to supplement. I've learned to just say no to things that don't work for me.
4. I've learned to accept that everything in our culture is about eating...holidays, celebrations, etc. I participate as much as I can and I get through.
5. Have someone who can help you through a panic attack. My wife is great. I thought no one could ever love me this way...that is untrue.
6. Live life (even if it has to be around this problem). It IS NOT hopeless. You just have to have other expectations about food OR get help to address the issue. I've made peace with it. Food is just something I have to do to be here. I try not to let it or my phobia run my life.

As far as practical tips:
1. Focus on the fact that the panic is going to pass. In 27 years it always has. Think about what you will be doing in an hour and how silly this will all seem then.
2. Use the fact that you have made it through past situations to help you through the current crisis.
3. Much as I hate being on an anti-psychotic, it has helped me.
4. Seek support of family and friends.


Hope this helps. Many more stories I could share, but the board probably has length limits.

 
Old 04-01-2007, 09:30 AM   #9
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soulerflare HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

I know precisely what you are going through. I have lived with this situation since an incident when I was 15 (I'm now 42). My family and I were on vacation. It was a very hot day at an amusement park and during lunch I thought a piece of hamburger got stuck in my throat. Little did I know that the incident was to shape the rest of my life.

I don't know to this moment whether there was actually anything stuck in my throat that day. I spent the last three days of our vacation (a 1500 mile drive) certain that I was going to die at every meal. When we returned home, I was fine for a few weeks. I thought it had passed. Then another incident occurred (I thought a piece of taco shell or taco meat) was stuck in my throat. Meat became the focus of my condition. Although, at various times, many foods have been taboo and then become acceptable again.

I lived much of my teens and early 20s on a diet of cream of wheat and instant mashed potatoes. I had one 9 month period (my first year away at college) when I was temporarily able to overcome the problem. This was followed by one of the most intense and frightening three months.

Finally, when I was 25 I wound up in the hospital weighing 98 pounds (I'm 5'9") and unable to even swallow liquid. My electrolytes had crashed and the doctor told me I shouldn't be alive.

After 3 months of intense physical and mental care, I re-entered the world...not cured, but better able to cope.

I've tried counseling and various types of therapies. For me a low, regular dose of Prozac helps keep the edge off. I've identified several foods that I can eat and eat them nearly every day. I take vitamins (crushing them in a pill crusher) to make sure I get nutrients.

After many years of social isolation, career problems, and a family that didn't always understand, my life is wonderful! I have a full time job with a Fortune 40 company, a wife who understands that I take longer to eat and deals with it, and friends who try to understand. I have occasional panic attacks, but if I stick to my routine...they are bearable. I no longer avoid restaurants, vacations, or other things I want to do. I find a way to cope or ask for special food help. Many restaurants will make special things for you if you ask.

My advice (based on much experience).

1. Make sure you don't have an actual physical problem with your swallowing mechanism.
2. Share the issue with others you trust. Many will not understand, but at a human level most people have some unusual problem they don't like to share. Being open about it rather than making it this deep, dark secret is a huge relief. I will often share it with people I know I'm going to have to be with in social/eating situations.
3. Don't avoid restaurants. It makes others uncomfortable. I will go with my wife or friends to a restaurant...though its scary sometimes. I will order the best thing I can find on the menu and do the best I can with it. Often, I will eat meal when we get home to supplement. I've learned to just say no to things that don't work for me.
4. I've learned to accept that everything in our culture is about eating...holidays, celebrations, etc. I participate as much as I can and I get through.
5. Have someone who can help you through a panic attack. My wife is great. I thought no one could ever love me this way...that is untrue.
6. Live life (even if it has to be around this problem). It IS NOT hopeless. You just have to have other expectations about food OR get help to address the issue. I've made peace with it. Food is just something I have to do to be here. I try not to let it or my phobia run my life.

As far as practical tips:
1. Focus on the fact that the panic is going to pass. In 27 years it always has. Think about what you will be doing in an hour and how silly this will all seem then.
2. Use the fact that you have made it through past situations to help you through the current crisis.
3. Much as I hate being on an anti-psychotic, it has helped me.
4. Seek support of family and friends.


Hope this helps. Many more stories I could share, but the board probably has length limits.

 
Old 04-01-2007, 04:57 PM   #10
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opple HB Useropple HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

You need to relax and chew your food well. And don't eat while driving or doing other absorbing things that take a lot of concentration. If you think about this fear of choking and fixate on it, it'll stick with you.

Eat when you are hungry but don't wolf food down. Stay away from foods that are tough like steak and sometimes bacon, jerky, dried fruits and so on--til this thing passes. I don't think food should be tough anyway. Vigorous chewing is good for the gums and facial muscles but some steak is just ridiculous. You might as well eat pleasant tasting wallet or shoe.

 
Old 04-02-2007, 04:42 PM   #11
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Dantheinsane HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

I didn't see this posted but I could be wrong.

Anginophobia Fear of angina, choking or narrowness.

Pnigophobia or Pnigerophobia Fear of choking of being smothered.

 
Old 04-12-2007, 08:24 AM   #12
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SK8ER BOY HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

hi i know this was posted in aug of 06 but if you ever come back to see this post i want to tell you how i deal with my choking fear ok to start out you have to know what made this happen and for you its not seeing your kids grow up for me it was when i was 3 years old im 17 now i was eating at the table eatting my last fish stick and i was a hyper kid so i ate the last one really fast and the whole fish stick went in my throat like a plug i was fighting for my life for over 2 mins i was starting to pass out and my lips where dark blue my aunt was reading the chart for cpr and with in 2 in a half mins it got up my throat and my mom grab it i was 30 or 40 sec away from dieing thats where my fear come from and since then i have struggled with eating food with out fear of choking but i have some tips for you that i do when i eat i take small bites and chew it for a real long time till you feel its all mush you have to start out small and work your way up start with small pieces of pancake and work your way up thats how i got back to eating whole foods i hope my few tips helped and what might make you feel safer is if you dont have one pick up a cpr chart just to feel safer if it wasent for mine i would have never made it i still have the same one just cause it makes me feel safe g2g later

 
Old 04-18-2007, 04:28 AM   #13
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cleo13 HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamilton92 View Post
I have an extreme fear of choking when I eat that I have almost completely given up eating solid foods.
I have been suffering for almost 3 years now. It started one night when I was eating a salad and felt like everything I had just eaten got stuck in my throat and that I was going to choke to death. I couldn't get the food up or down and I couldn't seem to get liquids to go down very easily so I was convinced something was stuck.
I was too scared to go to the hospital but scared I was going to die.
Since that night, this fear has ruined my life.
I basically live on mushy or soft foods like creamed soup, baked potatoes, cream of wheat, puddings, Ensure, Boost etc..
I don't remember the last time I ate a hamburger or a pizza.
I want to be able to eat again normally and live like a normal person.
Everytime I eat if feels like the food gets stuck and I'm going to choke to death and die.
I have this obsession that I'm going to die now if I try to eat solid foods.
Can someone actually live off of soft foods for their whole life and never eat solid foods again?
I don't have insurance so I can't get the help I need.
I went to a gastroenterologist when I still had medical insurance and all he wanted to do is throw antacids at me which didn't help so I don't take them.
He refused to listen to me and now that I've lost my job to these problems I can't go get a second opinion. I'd love to see a naturopathic doctor but I thin they are pretty expensive and insurance doesn't cover visits for them anyways.
I have lost so much weight. I am now 33 years old, 5'10" and about 128 pounds. I have to gain weight, I want to gain about 10 pounds at least, between 10 and 20 to get back above being underweight. Right now according to a BMI calculator I am about 5 pounds underweight. To get at least to a normal BMI I'll have to gain back 5 pounds or more. I don't want to die. I am so very very scared, its controlling my life, I look at my husband and kids and I just want to be able to grow old with my husband and see my kids grow up and I'm afraid that won't happen. I'm scared that no one will be able to help me and I'm going to die.
What can I do? Does anyone understand me?
Please post I really really need to hear from someone who understands.

 
Old 04-18-2007, 04:40 AM   #14
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cleo13 HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

I too are suffering from this. I saw a guy having a heartattack a while ago, but he looked like he was choking as he was eating a sandwich, he went blue and his eyes rolled back, he died an hour later but i didnt know it was a heartattack till later on. This was scary to say the least, but forgot about it. then recently i keep having sort of panic moments when im eating in front of people like i cant swallow. It has happened once on my own, but ive also become scared of vomiting up solid food incase i choke, i dont mind liquids when im sick but foods like chips get lodged or thats what scares me. Im writing a shopping list at the mo and its all soup and beans nice and small, and i only eat bread thats soaking in sauce. Now i worry that liquid type food will become solid in my stomach so if im sick it will come up that why. Does anyone understand me?

 
Old 04-22-2007, 07:08 PM   #15
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katie78 HB User
Re: Fear of choking. Please help! I'm scared of dying!

I am familiar with what you are experiencing, because I went through that nightmare myself. I stopped eating solid foods for about a year and a half. It happened to me when I was a child about 10 years old, and I had an unnatural fear of choking. I lost a ton of weight, and pictures of me show me being grotesquely thin. I am now 29 years old, eat normally and am a very healthy weight. I realize now that the problem I had was an anxiety disorder, and not at all based on any physical problems. I occasionally have panic attacks but have never experienced the choking phobia again. I have to say until I read your post, I never knew of anyone that had experienced this.

I conquered this fear by talking about my anxieties to a physician. I never went on any kind of medication, but I gradually went back to eating normally again. I don't know if this helps, but sometimes your mind can be a powerful thing that can convince your body to react in strange ways. Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways. If you can conquer the anxiety causing the problem through prayer and focused determination you WILL get past this.

 
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