Fear of suffocation or pseudodysphagia , sometimes confused with phagophobia or fear of swallowing. Although both conditions involve the act of swallowing, the difference is in the precise nature of the fear. People with phagophobia are afraid of the swallowing process, while people with pseudo-dysphagia worry that swallowing may lead to suffocation.
Some medical conditions also cause difficulty swallowing and eating, so before self-diagnosing yourself with fear of choking, it is important to rule out physiological causes such as certain neurological problems and esophageal conditions.
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Pseudodysphagia and diet
People with pseudodysphagia often have trouble eating solid foods. The anxiety and stress cause the throat muscles constrict, which (somewhat ironically) further increases the chance of suffocation.
Many people find that chewing and swallowing each bite with a large sip of liquid can help relieve their symptoms. However, people with a more severe fear may need to turn to smoothies, baby food, and purees, or even subsist on a liquid diet.
In the age of food processors and high-powered blenders, it is not impossible to maintain optimal health with a liquid diet, but over time, those who are less informed about the various facets of nutrition may experience malnutrition. For this and many other reasons, it is very important to treat pseudodysphagia as soon as possible.
Choking and the dentist
Many people who do not otherwise suffer from pseudodysphagia are afraid of choking during or after a dental procedure . Those who have a more pervasive fear of choking may find it difficult or impossible to visit the dentist at all. These fears often contribute to a more pervasive fear of dentists.
Common fears of dental choking include choking on saliva, choking on dental instruments, and choking on gauze. Some people are afraid of not being able to breathe or swallow while their mouth is numb . Many people find that their fears are made worse when the chair is tilted all the way back.
- If you are concerned about drowning in the dentist’s office, discuss your concerns with him or her in advance. Dentists are used to dealing with people with all kinds of fears, and most have action plans ready.
- Also, establish a system to communicate your needs to the dentist during the procedure, such as raising your left hand to request suction.
- Although dental procedures are never fun, honesty and open communication make the experience a little easier for everyone.
Treatments for fear of suffocation
The phobias are defined as irrational fears. Avoiding grapes for fear of choking on them is not completely irrational, and if simply avoiding some foods is all that is needed to keep pseudo-dysphagia at bay, then there is probably no need for therapy.
But if your phobia is significantly interfering with your daily life, relationships, and career, or causing distress, make plans to see a mental health professional. With a little hard work, there is no reason for the fear of drowning to take over your life.
Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.