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Frequent Aspiration

I think I may have some kind of aspiration syndrome. That is, food often goes down the wrong pipe.

First, I have to define "often" - this happens a few times per week. So, not several times a day. Which is why I haven't gone to see a doctor yet. But it's happening more and more often.

It started many years ago, where I would occasionally forget how to swallow. I know that sounds silly, since it's a reflex that doesn't take conscious effort. But there would be times, every couple of months or so, where I would have food in my mouth, and I would think "okay, time to swallow now..." and it would take a few seconds for the reflex circuit to kick in. Then, everything would be fine again for another couple of months.

Then later, it turned into actually inhaling my food. But at the time, it only seemed to happen when I was talking with food in my mouth. (I know this is rude, but we all do it.) Most of the time it would be fine, but every once in a while, food would go down the wrong pipe. At the time I just thought "Well, serves me right for talking with food in my mouth."

But in the last couple of years, it has taken yet another turn. The valve that is supposed to close off my wind-pipe just randomly opens while I'm chewing my food. I don't have to be talking (in fact, this hasn't happened while talking in quite a long while). I will literally just be sitting there, chewing my food, and the valve opens and food goes into my windpipe. Or not necessarily food, but some saliva with maybe a few food particles, and because I often eat spicy food, some amount of capsaicin. Having anything other than air in the windpipe is bad enough, but having spicy food in the windpipe is even worse!

But this doesn't happen only when I'm eating spicy food, so I can't pin it all on a reaction to the heat. And I don't know what would be causing it - I haven't had a stroke, I'm not old enough to experience muscle degradation. Some neurological problems can cause it, so maybe it's an indicator of something else? But it seems so trivial, it doesn't seem like the kind of thing a doctor would take seriously or even be able to diagnose.

So I just add it to the list of "fun things I get to deal with".

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