Food Stuck in Your Throat

In the majority of the cases, the food remains stuck in our throats when we are in a hurry to eat and we do not chew it properly. Among the things that can become stuck in our throats, there are: bones from the chicken or fish, pieces of steak that are not sufficiently chewed or bread that is dry. Whenever such a situation occurs, it is possible that the respective person experiences pain or a slight discomfort; apart from that, one can suffer from local irritation and also describe a feeling of having a foreign body inside the throat.

If such a situation occurs frequently, you should talk to your doctor about it (as you might be suffering from an underlying health condition). If the primary symptom is difficulty swallowing, you have to ask the doctor about the medical conditions that are associated with it (medical term for difficulty swallowing – dysphagia). The doctor will also ask you about other symptoms you might be experiencing, such as pain upon swallowing, weight loss, difficult breathing (dyspnea) or slurred speech. You will have to mention whether the difficult swallowing is present with certain foods or at all times. Among the conditions that can lead to such problems, there are: neurological disorders, stroke, neoplastic growth and esophagus abnormalities.

How to Get Food Stuck in Your Throat Out?

From the start, you should keep in mind that the smaller pieces of food are going to be dissolved on their own, thanks to the saliva produced at the level of the oral cavity. So, do not panic and first way to see what it happens. If you want to increase the production of saliva at the level of the oral cavity, you can try to chew on a piece of gum or suck a lozenge. Drinking fluids, such as water or especially a warm cup of tea, can add fluidity to the esophagus mucosa. In this way, the small piece of food is going to be dissolved even faster.

Even though you might be tempted to drink carbonated beverages or try out natural remedies, such as water-diluted vinegar or baking soda, be sure to refrain from such actions. Sometimes, the food stuck in the throat can irritate the local tissues and drinking any of the above-mentioned substances will only add to the existent irritation.

If you do not obtain any improvement through the already-suggested solution, you can try to provoke the gag reflex. For such a thing to happen, you just have to press on the back of the tongue. Once the gag reflex has become activated, it is possible that the piece of food stuck at the level of the esophagus is regurgitated.

It might also be possible to dislodge the food by eating something soft, such as a piece of fresh bread. The moistened piece of bread, upon being swallowed, will force the other piece of food to be dislodged and swallowed. Another solution would be to try and cough. If you are repeat the cough process several times, you might be able to dislodge the piece of food that was stuck in your throat. However, you have to be extra careful, so as not to inhale small bits of food as you cough, as you can increase the risk of choking, instead of solving the problem.

In the situation that you cannot dislodge the stuck piece of food through any of the methods that were mentioned, you will have to go to the emergency room and request specialized assistance. In order to remove the food that has remained stuck in your throat, the doctor will use an endoscope (so as to visualize the area and identify exactly the location of the blockage).

How to Prevent Food from Getting Stuck in Throat?

We are all aware that it is possible to prevent the food from becoming stuck in our throats. However, in the majority of the situations, we are not aware that it is the simple gestures that can represent the best prevention. For example, when you eat, you should take only small bites of food and make sure that you chew them properly and thoroughly. Apart from that, you should chew your food slowly, avoiding swallowing the food whole or in large chunks (higher risk for becoming lodged in the throat). Cutting the food into bite-size pieces is a good idea, as you reduce the risk of blockage from the start.

At every meal, you should drink water, so as to lubricate the esophagus and ensure a smooth swallowing process. You should also avoid eating foods that are either too dry or too hard, as these can irritate the esophagus and also present a high risk of remaining stuck in the throat. It is recommended that you avoid all the actions that might reduce the production of saliva, such as smoking. The lower the production of saliva at the level of the mouth, the less lubricated the throat is going to be and thus the food you swallow will present an increased risk for becoming stuck.

When does the food stuck in your throat represent an emergency?

Obviously, if the piece of food is too large, it can interfere with the breathing process, which clearly represents an emergency. Apart from the difficult breathing, there are other signs that might suggest a person is choking, such as excessive drooling, impossible swallowing or cyanosis. The situation can be easily solved, if you are surrounded by people who are familiar with the Heimlich maneuver. This maneuver is performed with the person standing behind you, with the fists placed above the belly button. As pressure is applied to the apex area, the food is going to be dislodged from the person’s throat and everything will be alright. As soon as the food is dislodged, the person will notice an immediate improvement of the experienced symptoms. However, if the food does not become dislodged immediately, do not give up. It might be necessary for the maneuver to be performed several times, so as to dislodge it from the throat.

If you are choking and there is no else in the room, you will have to keep calm and try to perform the Heimlich maneuver by yourself. Instead of having someone behind you, applying pressure to the apex area, you will have to position yourself in front of a chair and press yourself on its back. The sudden pressure will dislodge the food stuck in your throat and you would have handled the emergency on your own.

Babies and small children are often at risk for food remaining stuck in their throat. If you notice that such a thing has happened, the first thing that you have to do is try to remove the piece of food manually (introduce a finger in the mouth of the child and try to take the piece of food out). In the situation that you are not successful, take the child and turn him/her on his/her belly. Then, apply pressure to the back, supporting the rest of the body with the other arm. This will dislodge the stuck piece of food and will allow for the improvement of the experienced symptoms.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here