March 13, 2010 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Recently when I've been asleep at night, I will wake up choking on a lump in my throat.

This has never happened to me before - and it is very disconcerting. Recently I've been waking several times a night from a sound sleep with the feeling I am choking on a lump in my throat. I'll take a drink of water and then massage the front of my throat, that makes it better for long enough that I can fall back asleep. Eating actually makes it feel better than drinking, though. Doesn't really happen during the day that I notice. It doesn't hurt at all.

I have been using a vaporizer, and drinking lots of water, neither which seems to be helping. Has anyone else ever had this happen?

(no asthma, overweight woman with a sedentary lifestyle, never had my tonsils out, not sick with anything else at this time)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
Please go to your doctor. This could be a problem with your thyroid (enlarged, node, etc.).
posted by availablelight at 10:43 AM on March 13, 2010

this sounds emotional to me. what's going on in your personal life?
posted by zoesmom at 10:43 AM on March 13, 2010

Has anyone told you you snore and/or stop breathing? I had very similar symptoms occasionally before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I'd suggest a sleep study.
posted by SquidLips at 10:54 AM on March 13, 2010

Could be reflux. Is it sour tasting? What are you eating/drinking in the evenings?
posted by scblackman at 10:55 AM on March 13, 2010

You should go see the doctor definitely, but it could be that you're eating too late or too close to your bed time. Do you wake up all stuffed up as well? like your nose and your throat and even more tired? It could also be that you need to get your tonsils taken out. I know someone who coughs a lot at night and gets water down the wrong pipe often. He went to the doctor's and it turns out it was his tonsils that grew back. If it started happening recently or if you don't have insurance, start not eating so late and sleep with your head raised slightly. Mind you, I am not a doctor, but based on people who've had similar problems.
posted by icollectpurses at 10:59 AM on March 13, 2010

This sounds like sleep apnea... you won't be aware of the condition but might wake up with a vague choking sensation. If you have a partner or friend who can check on you through the night sometime, this might be one way to get a handle on it, unless you can go to a sleep clinic.
posted by crapmatic at 11:05 AM on March 13, 2010

Do you drink a lot? Sometimes heavy drinkers have throat problems, swelling, etc.
posted by nevercalm at 11:25 AM on March 13, 2010

Seconding the sleep apnea possibility. And nthing that the first place to go on this is a doctor.
posted by Miko at 11:31 AM on March 13, 2010

I would get it checked out. IANAD, but people have brought up several plausible causes already so with such a general symptom, it's best to get it actually checked out to see what, if any medical cause could be the problem.

I had this once for a couple of days and then became sick with a horrible cough thing a few days later, so I think it was related to that. You might have drainage collecting in the back of your throat. Just throwing another possibility out there.
posted by ishotjr at 11:32 AM on March 13, 2010

Does is feel like your windpipe is closing up? Could be a laryngeal spasm. I get these - you just have to keep calm because gasping to breathe just makes it worse.
posted by yarly at 11:55 AM on March 13, 2010

I'm voting for gastric reflux. Try not too eat or drink much in the last 2 hours before you go to bed. Lots of water before bed really gets my acid churning. Also try propping your head and shoulders about 6" above your stomach and see if it gets better. Either way, see a doctor - acid reflux isn't a joke.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:11 PM on March 13, 2010

I'd vote for apnea, though IANAD. The same thing happens to me if I sleep on my back. I'm fine if I sleep on my side, though. Try changing the position you sleep in?
posted by paanta at 12:26 PM on March 13, 2010

Another vote for acid reflux. A few months ago I had the same symptoms. I went to an ENT, he looked down my throat and saw irritation form stomach acids. He put me on a course of Prilosec for a month and told me not to eat two hours before bed. Cleared up in a week or so.
posted by Evangeline at 1:58 PM on March 13, 2010

It could be a goiter or a thyroid tumor. Go to a doctor.
posted by candasartan at 3:13 PM on March 13, 2010

There are many, many reasons this could be happening, some benign and easy to fix, and some that are more complicated. Only a doctor will be able to tell you for sure. Start with a primary care, but my guess you will also have to see an ENT (ear, nose, throat doc) to resolve this. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 7:47 PM on March 13, 2010

I'm also thinking reflux
posted by FlyByDay at 8:40 PM on March 14, 2010

nthing Sleep Apnea. Get a sleep study, and they will figure out whatever it really is.
posted by anotherfluke at 8:48 PM on March 14, 2010

I'm voting sinus drainage, but you won't know until a doctor checks you out. Get thee to a doctor, STAT.
posted by deborah at 4:11 PM on March 16, 2010

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
It turns out that I forgot to include something important - I have had a cough for the past several months, that has been resistant to two courses of antibiotics. I wasn't really coughing when I wrote this question, but in recent days I've been coughing a lot. So I went to my doctor, and she said the cough, the lumpy throat, and the mysterious headaches I've had for the past few days were due to "cough due to reactive airway post-respiratory infection." So, now I'm on Advair and a few days of Prednisone. I trust that will clear everything up!
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:12 PM on March 17, 2010

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