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My husband has been choking on his saliva during his sleep. That has happened to him a couple of times in the past week. He woke up in the middle of the night choking on his saliva and he also said he felt there was gastric juice in his mouth. Why does that happen? Is that a common health problem? What should we do to prevent it?
Dear Vobla, Thank-you for your enquiry. It is a concern that your husband is choking on fluids during his sleep and that he has a sensation of gastric juice in his mouth. It certainly sounds as though your husband is suffering from a condition known as gastro-oesophageal reflux. However, he may also be suffering from other rarer disorders that affect swallowing. Gastro-oesophageal reflux is a backflow of acid from the stomach to the oesophagus. It usually presents with heartburn, especially at night and after lying flat after a meal. The patient often complains of a sour taste sensation in the mouth, and often coughs or splutters at night. It is a treatable condition and can be controlled with medication. The most important thing is for your husband to consult a doctor about this problem. A doctor will examine your husband and may wish to perform investigations such as an endoscopy, where the put a small telescope into the stomach to visualise the problem. The procedure is done using an anaestetic and is very safe. At the same time, rarer causes for these symptoms can be investigated if the doctor feels it necessary. Kind regards, Dr Michael White.
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