I love being able to breathe. Now you’re thinking “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” But it isn’t obvious. Most of the time I don’t notice I’m breathing. I take oxygen completely for granted. And anyone who exercises knows it’s really easy to hold your breath. We hold our breath when we learn something new or do anything challenging. It’s like we can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. Focused breathing is hard. But breathing should generally be automatic.
The reason I’ve really appreciate breathing lately is because I started having layrngospasms. What’s that? It’s when your vocal cords slam shut and you can’t breathe. Much like when food or water goes down the wrong pipe, except you aren’t eating or drinking. Most of the time you wake up from a dead sleep and (as I learned yesterday at my ENT) it’s caused from acid reflux splashing against the larynx—a normal occurrence that is currently really irking my vocal cords. For most people, most of the time the larynx is a little more chill about acid reflux.
It’s terrifying. It sounds like I’m retching or like I’m a cat coughing up a fur ball, but there is no fur ball. This is one way heroine addicts die. They throw up and are so sedated they don’t spring out of the dead sleep and start coughing like I did. So their body can’t open the larynx. It’s really pleasant and fun to watch. That’s a sarcasm spasm. The first two times it happened, I was pretty sure I might just die, but I quickly found some helpful ways to stop the spasm. So, if you have laryngospasms, here are some tips:
- Inhale through your nose. Why? Your vocal cords open more when you breathe through your nose. And you need them to open. Imagine sniffing flowers
- Try staying away from food that may increase acid reflux (fruit juice, tomato sauce, caffeine).
- Just stop. Take the seconds you need and regroup.
- Try to swallow or burp. Both help me.
- Go see your doctor. Make sure it isn’t something more serious, and talk to your doctor about
- An acid reflux medicine. I’m not always pro meds, but sometimes the body needs a little help to fight something. Especially if it’s short term. See what you’re doctor thinks.
- Stay calm. It’s easy to go into panic mode when you can’t breathe, but once you know what is happening, staying calm can help you focus on what you need to do to start breathing again.
Good luck. Happy breathing.