Can't Stop Gagging
February 29, 2012 7:01 AM   Subscribe

I cannot stop gagging.. Help!

I have been woefully sick for the past few weeks and I have super lousy post-nasal drip that's triggering my gag reflex constantly. The Urgent Care doctors in my area weren't sympathetic when I came in for help and one actually went so far as to say, "You're all made up for work. You don't look sick." which was infuriating to say the least, especially when their waitstaff commented on how ill I look well before I even checked in to be seen. Combined with extra sinus pain, a mild case of thrush, and laryngitis, I am one sad kid.

I have got to stop gagging on whatever it is that's dripping down my throat and onto the back of my tongue. Even water's tripping the reflex to the point of dry heaves and real vomiting. Help!

I have tried:
+ menthol lozenges
+ honey (effective, but I can't keep eating it at work)
+ scrubbing my tongue
+ water
+ salt water
+ eating constantly (also effective, but can't do that constantly)
+ DayQuil, NyQuil, etc
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
sudafed and/or mucinex?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:04 AM on February 29, 2012

Sudafed (the real stuff that you have to sign for, not the lame OTC substitute) has always done the trick when I needed to dry sinuses out.
posted by jquinby at 7:05 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, you don't have to use menthol lozenges ... if sucking on a lozenge helps, sucking on hard candy may help too. Sort-of like eating constantly, but lower-calorie and less obvious. Starlite mints or lemonheads are what I use. Lemonheads are easier to stick in your cheek and talk around.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:07 AM on February 29, 2012

Maybe try that sore throat spray that numbs your throat so you won't feel the tickle that triggers the gag reflex. It tastes terrible, but the numbing effect lasts for a while.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 7:09 AM on February 29, 2012

I tend to get choke to death post nasal drip instead of gagging post nasal drip, but are you drinking cold water? That makes me worse. Try drinking warm or even hottish water, with or without honey. That fixes me pretty quickly. And also Sudafed. I love that stuff.
posted by artychoke at 7:09 AM on February 29, 2012

I've got a similar problem ... you might find some helpful answers in this question I asked recently. The Perrier suggestion has helped, and this thing has been pretty miraculous.
posted by jbickers at 7:16 AM on February 29, 2012

jbickers is right about the sinus irrigator. And just be prepared, it's not going to be pretty. There will be hocking and spitting and you may throw up. But it will get the...buildup...out of the back of your throat, which is probably what's actually making you gag.

And then use sudafed to slow the drip. If you're making a drugstore run anyway, get the little bottle of Chloraseptic. It's got a targeted nozzle that'll spray the back of your throat without coating your tongue in numbing cherry nastiness. If your drip has been this bad, you're probably going to end up with a sore throat, so you might as well be armed.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:24 AM on February 29, 2012

You may actually prefer the low-grade gagging to the one very serious high-intensity gag you'll have when you take it, but Buckley's Mucous and Phlegm Relief works for me. Something about the hot-pepper pine-tar mothball-ness of it all is just magic.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:26 AM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

That irrigator looks like the electric toothbrush version of a neti pot, for which there are many resources online. I used one to great effect during my last head cold. After you get over the grossness factor, they're awesome.
posted by jquinby at 7:28 AM on February 29, 2012

Seconding Buckley's, and seconding the warning about the taste. It's really, REALLY bad (although I think of it more like "pine needle/Vick's vaporub/mothball"), but my GOD does it work.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:28 AM on February 29, 2012

Hold your breath. Not too long so you don't start breathing heavy when you finally take a breath. Repeat ad infinitum. It will down-regulate mucous production in your sinuses.
posted by zeek321 at 7:38 AM on February 29, 2012

Treating the gag reflex isn't going to help until you dry up the drip. Sudafed is awesome. Use a neti pot (distilled/boiled water!) if you're able to. In the meantime, one trick that helped me when my post-nasal drip turned into an awful cough was scratching my ear. It sounds ridiculous, but apparently it triggers some muscle reflex in your throat that relieves the tickling.
posted by specialagentwebb at 7:43 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing neti to clean out the crud so it never gets into your throat.

Also am outraged on your behalf at the "you don't look sick" comments. WTF???????

Hope you find relief very soon.
posted by pupstocks at 7:56 AM on February 29, 2012

This is probably something you should be seeing your PCP about, not Urgent Care. You might get more sympathy with a doctor who isn't comparing you to swollen sprained ankles and dehydrated 8 year olds who haven't been able to keep down liquids for two days.
posted by maryr at 8:58 AM on February 29, 2012

Buckleys is great.

I'd also avoid things that produce mucous -- dairy, specifically. No milk, no yogurt, no ice cream, no cheese (or hard cheese only).

Elecampane & mullein are great for colds/coughs/ick. I usually mullein for a "dry" cough and elecampane in a "wet" cough or sinus grossness. Either infusions (long brew tea) or tinctures.

For nasal congestion you might also try a ginger/lemon steam. Chop up an inch or so of ginger, squeeze half (or whole) lemon into 1 quart (or so) of water. Boil ginger/lemon/water for 15 minutes (ish) and then pour mixture into wide bowl. Drape towel over your head/shoulders/bowl to create steam tent and breathe in for 10-15-20 minutes. The relief is nearly immediate but usually happens *after* the steaming. During the steaming you'll still feel stuffy and gross.

Finally, alternate nostril breathing which is weird but kind of excellent. Depending on your congestion level, this may be miserable but as congestion eases, it may help.

All these are cold/sinus remedies with the idea that in order to "fix" gag reflex, you must address the nasal drip.
posted by countrymod at 9:00 AM on February 29, 2012

(I don't mean that to sound like a scolding! I just mean you might get better medical advice from a non-emergency doctor with an appointment. I apologize if I'm misunderstanding what you meant by "Urgent Care".)
posted by maryr at 9:01 AM on February 29, 2012

Mucinex - it thins out the mucus. I went through this a few weeks ago - it was so bad one night that I actually stayed up all night, because I felt like I was choking on mucus when I was horozontal. Mucinex helped a lot, especially after the 2nd dose. Just make sure you drink a lot of water while taking it.
posted by COD at 9:09 AM on February 29, 2012

Ginger + Lemon + honey (boil in hot water) = drink
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:22 AM on February 29, 2012

Mucinex Mucinex Mucinex. Seriously, Mucinex is amazing stuff.

Also nasal rinsing.

See an ENT. You may have a sinus infection, which, if it's bacterial, will need antibiotics.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:28 AM on February 29, 2012

Before you take the pukeworthy route of Buckley's amazing gnawed-on Christmas tree syrup or pouring a mini-teapot of saltwater up your nose, try this.

Press your tongue (or your thumb) really hard against the roof of your mouth, release, and press one finger between your eyebrows. This shifts your vomer bone back and forth. If you are doing it right, you can feel a rocking motion, and after a few pushes, your sinuses will drain.

If you're too clogged for this, Mucinex up first.
posted by Sallyfur at 9:49 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for sinus rinses (provided you're not completely blocked up). Sinus rinses are ace, and great to keep sensitive sinuses happy on an ongoing basis.

If you drink I'd recommend steering clear of wine and beer for a while when you're recovering. I've found wine in particular can set the sinuses off again and make my head feel like it wants to drop off onto the floor.

I hope you feel better soon, the nasal drip gag is horrible.
posted by pymsical at 10:41 AM on February 29, 2012

I had this problem for like a YEAR after having pneumonia.

What didn't work:
Sudafed (okay, made it better briefly and then stopped working after about 2-3 days)
Whatever the hell the call the drug that is in level 1 asthma inhalers
Qvar (another asthma inhaler)
Sore throat spray
Spray for snorers (wow, that was awful)

What did work:
Exercising at the gym.

Don't ask me why, but every freaking drug I tried didn't do anything until then. Now, it doesn't sound like you're in shape for an hour's worth of gym class or whatever right now, but it's an idea.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:23 PM on February 29, 2012

Response by poster: You flawless people, you have provided me with a tremendous arsenal of tricks and I am delighted to say that sucking on candies worked miracles all morning as I hacked and coughed my way through elementary school. I have a hunch this sinus problem will be back, so I'll be stocking up on the things all of you suggested so I don't need to render the front row of my classroom a splash zone.

Bonus fun fact: one of my students noticed I was having a little trouble being a regular human being today and at recess she came up, put her little arm around my waist, and told me that even though I looked just like her cat when it's about to have a hairball, I was still her favorite student teacher.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:52 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

she came up, put her little arm around my waist, and told me that even though I looked just like her cat when it's about to have a hairball, I was still her favorite student teacher.

Not many things make me say "awww" out loud. This did.

Feel better! (And in the interest of offering advice in an AskMe comment: if you're going to try Buckley's, make sure you get the expectorant formula, rather than the suppressant. It will make no difference in taste, but the expectorant formula is the one that will thin the phlegm rather than just stopping you coughing, and thinning it is what you want.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:12 AM on March 1, 2012

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