Ask an expert

01 Apr 2003

Total inability to breathe, suddenly!
My sister had a scary incident. She does have a narrowed esophagus due to a bad experience during a goiter op (an emergency tracheotomy) about 25 years wgo. She tends to chew foods very well before swallowing, and won't swallow pills unless she's crushed them. Otherwise, no problems with swallowing. A few days ago (she was alone at home) she crushed a headache tablet, drank it down, coughed lightly -- and suddenly she could not breathe. Not at all. She said she "made desperate sounds" trying to breathe through either her nose or mouth, and ... NOTHING! No air got through. It was terrifying and she thought she would die. Eventually, she said, she managed to draw in tiny breaths of air. The incident passed -- but what was it?? She does not suffer from asthma. It sounds like some kind of spasm, but now she is terrified of it happening again. Her husband is often away from home. Could you hazard a guess as to what caused it? Thanks!!!!
Answer 309 views

01 Jan 0001

Anne, it’s difficult to say for sure, but it sounds like the vocal cords went into spasm. This usually what happens if a bit of water goes down the wrong tube. The only way to find out for sure would be for her to see a lung specialist so that he can take a “camera” and have a look whether the trachea is swollen or not. Good luck.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.