Laryngospasm: Symptoms, Causes and Remedies

Laryngospasm is a rather common medical condition characterized by an involuntary contraction of the vocal cords that causes a brief and partial breathing blockage. While the blockage lasts less than a minute and only prevents breathing in (not breathing out), the fact that it catches people by surprise may result in panic. This is especially true for small children as well as first time sufferers. Laryngospasm is often accompanied by symptoms such as stridor (a high-pitched sound during inspiration), difficulty breathing in or air hunger.

Retractions of the chest wall due to reduced air pressure inside the chest as a result of the breathing blockage as well as fear, anxiety and panic attacks due to experiencing a feeling of imminent death are common symptoms. Some people may experience watery eyes and sudden and excessive sweating. Laryngospasms can occur both in children and adults, both during the day and during the night. In the latter case, they are often triggered by acid reflux and will most likely cause sufferers to wake up from their sleep.


When it comes to children, laryngospasm represents a potentially serious medical condition that needs to be addressed by a medical professional immediately. Children are much more susceptible to oxygen deprivation and lack the control needed to manage the breathing blockage.
Types of laryngospasm. The condition can be classified as minor laryngospasm and illness-induced laryngospasm. The former occurs and resolves by itself and sufferers are advised to keep calm and breathe slowly until the attack passes. Drinking water can also help clear allergens. The latter can be a result of illness affecting the airways, acid reflux, allergy, hypocalcemia (low blood calcium levels), anesthesia or various medical procedures acting on the vocal folds. In this case, sufferers need to address the cause of their laryngospasm attack such as taking acid reflux medication or keeping away from potential irritants or allergens.

What are the causes of laryngospasm?
1) Gastroesophageal reflux. Laryngospasm occurring especially at night is often caused by gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux, which can be symptomatic or asymptomatic (learn more about acid reflux symptoms). If your healthcare provider suspects acid reflux is the cause, he or she can prescribe you special medication called antacids to treat the underlying condition. However, some antacids (especially the tablets that disintegrate or the powder antacids) can encourage a laryngospasm episode themselves. This is possible because when they disintegrate in the mouth, they may leave grainy particles stuck to the throat. These particles may dry out the mucous membrane and lead to an episode.

If acid reflux is responsible for your laryngospasms and the tablet or powder antacids dry out your throat, talk to your doctor about a better alternative for you. Drinking a bit of room temperature water after taking the antacid can help wash down any particles potentially stuck to your throat lining. Also, when dealing with a midnight laryngospasm episode, remember to keep calm, breathe slowly and drink water at regular intervals. It is important that the water be at room temperature.

Laryngospasm remedies

2) Low humidity. Low humidity in your home means the air might be too dry and this may trigger laryngospasms. A good night’s sleep requires air moisture to be between 40% and 50%. While setting pots of water on radiators or stoves or leaving damp clothes to dry in the room might create a little bit more humidity, you can achieve more by purchasing a good humidifier.

The use of indoor heating during winter in particular can make air humidity drop as low as 10%, in which case you will need a good humidifier to help prevent the lining of your throat (and nose) from drying and causing laryngospasms. Also, as a general rule, it might be best to avoid sitting or sleeping next to a radiator, convector or other heating device that might also blow warm air because it can dry out your throat faster and encourage an episode (I speak from experience).

3) Sore and dry throat. Everytime our throat lining becomes dry and sore, we are at risk for laryngospasms. Contracting the flu or a common cold or any other respiratory disease for that matter will most likely cause a sore throat, while air pollutants, irritant substances, pollen, allergens, cigarette smoke or swallowing salty sea water will cause your throat lining to dry out. Practicing good hygiene, avoiding going out on hot and dry, windy days and staying away from irritants can significantly help reduce laryngospasm frequency.

While keeping yourself away from irritants, allergens, cigarette smoke, maintaining good humidy levels in your home and avoiding outdoor activities on dry, windy days can be great ways of reducing the risk for laryngospasm, it is just as important to know how to act when you feel your airways are closing and you cannot breathe properly.
So here are 7 great useful tricks and remedies for dealing with laryngospasm:

1) Keep calm and breathe slowly. Keping as calm as possible when having a laryngospasm not only helps you better assess the situation and see if you should seek medical help or not, but also allows you to preserve your energy, sanity and control over your breathing. Panicking can increase your oxygen need and, since you are already not getting enough air, it might just make things worse. Reember to avoid talking, unnecessary movements or physical effort.

2) Drink water. Slowly sipping on room-temperature water when having a laryngospasm is extremely important. More often than not, laryngospasms are triggered by allergens or irritants acting directly on the throat lining. Water helps render such substances inactive which can stop the spasm almost immediately. For me, naturally sparkling water is sometimes more effective than still water because of its bubbles which seem to help my airways open quicker. Moreover, I feel that sparkling water is better and more efficient at inactivating allergens or washing down bothersome substances.

Make sure you have a glass or bottle of water within arm’s reach at all times or carry a small 500 ml water bottle with you all the time, especially when doing outdoor activities. Also, make sure the water is at room temperate so you don’t stress your vocal cords even more.

3) Hot steam. In the event of a severe crisis, get some water and go straight to the bathroom. Turn the hot water on in the shower, sink, etc. and let it fill the bathroom with hot steam. The entire bathroom should fill with steam in less than a minute. Not only will the hot steam increase air humidity to a maximum, allowing you to breathe better, but it will also help inactivate allergens and irritants from your hair, throat, nose and clothes. Sip water slowly and try to relax and breathe the steam into your lungs. After the crisis has passed, remember to change your clothes (which may also contain allergens) and keep well hydrated.

4) Pay attention to colds and flu. Laryngospasms may occur with greater frequency when you cough or when your throat is full of phlegm due to a cold, for example. Practicing good hygiene and staying away from crowded places in flu season can make a great difference when it comes to preventing laryngospasm.

5) Treat your gastric reflux. Seen that acid reflux is a major trigger for laryngospasm, make sure you treat the condition properly by taking antacid medication prescribed by your doctor. Also, remember to never lie in bed as soon as you’ve eaten (digest first, then sleep) and learn to avoid the foods and beverages that may irritate your throat and stomach lining such as spicy foods or foods that you might find particularly hard to digest, such as bell peppers or garlic, coffee, sodas and others (find out more about what foods to eat and to avoid for acid reflux).

6) Drink herbal teas. Drinking a not-too-hot cup of tea every now and then can have a beneficial effect on your vocal cords, helping them relax and reducing laryngospasm occurrence. Herbal infusions made from camomile, echinacea, lavender or Rooibos, for example, help relax your throat area and reduce inflammation that may contribute to worsening the condition.

7) Take your vitamin C. I speak from experience when I say that taking vitamin C supplements daily can improve your health considerably, especially when it comes to laryngospasm, asthma or allergies. If you feel your throat and vocal cords are irritated or inflamed due to exposure to allergens, cigarette or any kind of smoke, irritants and so on, pour yourself some water and take an effervescent vitamin C tablet of 1000 mg. The water will help inactivate allergens, while vitamin C will act as a potent local anti-inflammatory that can potentially prevent a laryngospasm episode. I take vitamin C every day because it also helps me control my allergies.

Conclusion. While it is a serious medical condition, laryngospasm can not only be kept under control, but also successfully prevented, should you learn to avoid the causes triggering it. Remember to remain calm, breathe slowly, avoid talking, turn on your hot water faucet in the shower and let steam fill the bathroom and drink room-temperature water in sips. Should you feel, at any point, overwhelmed, seek medical attention immediately.

94 Replies to “Laryngospasm: Symptoms, Causes and Remedies”

  1. I just found this really helpful site, had a spasm about an hour ago and I’m scared to lie down and go to sleep. I started with a bad cough early Christmas morning, then the cough got worse, I lost my voice and in the early morning of New Years Eve I think I had a laryngospasm. Living alone and suffering with anxiety I felt compelled to dial 111, an emergency ambulance was sent to me and the paramedics were able to calm me down. I was diagnosed with a chest infection and prescribed a course (7 days) of antibiotics. Nothing about my breathing was explained to me, just a vague question about asthma which I don’t have. Anyway I had a few more of the spasms since and didn’t know what to do so I panic. My mucous seems to be drying up but that could be making my throat more sensitive. My family think it is just another anxiety symptom. I’m female, 68 and single. 30 years or so ago I had this happen when I swallowed spittle the wrong way whilst eating chocolate. Is there anything else this could be?

    • Hello, Audrey. It is common for laryngospasms to occur after a bad respiratory infection, especially if it presents with symptoms such as coughing. Since you were diagnosed with a chest infection and have been prescribed antibiotics, it means that you had a pretty serious infection and it could easily be the reason behind the laryngospasms. I know how unsettling laryngospasms can be, but it’s important to remain calm to best get through it. Since you suspect the episodes may occur as a result of your mucus drying up which could also cause a dry throat, it could help to drink more water and make sure you always have a glass or bottle of water with you in case you feel a laryngospasm coming. Taking a few small sips of water could help prevent an episode. It could also help to use a nasal spray with saline solution to just keep you nose from drying up (not nasal decongestants). If your laryngospasms occur mostly at night, you should consider acid reflux as the cause. It can present with symptoms such as heartburn or bad taste in mouth, usually acidic or metallic taste. At the same time acid reflux a can be asymptomatic, but both require treatment to manage the acidity. Antibiotics and other medicines also cause stomach acidity. The cold weather and low temperature could also be a factor and so can the cough. A lot of people experience laryngospasms for weeks after their cough clears. Anxiety is also a factor and can bring about or make episodes worse. For more causes, please read the article above.

      Since your infection hasn’t cleared, it could take some time for the laryngospasms to go away. During this time, it should help to take good care of yourself by drinking lots of room temperature liquids, eating well, taking some vitamins, especially vitamin C, zinc, B vitamins, magnesium and potassium, resting, avoiding going outside a lot, covering your neck and mouth with a scarf so you don’t breathe in cold air, making sure the air in the house is not dry (a humidifier could help), eating two or three hours before going to bed and sleeping with an elevated pillow to avoid acid reflux and having water with you all the time. For you peace of mind, it is advisable to see a doctor and ask him or her if what you have are actually laryngospasms and, if they are, find out if they are simply a side effect of the respiratory infection or have another cause like acid reflux, for example. Hope this helps and wishing you lots of health.

    • Hi! I’m suffering with laryngospasm. It’s very scary but I’m getting lots of tips in coping with it. Has anyone been to, or found a specialist or found a cure?

    • Hi, Helen! When dealing with laryngospasms, it really helps to first identify the cause behind them. Some likely causes include stomach acidity (acid reflux or GERD), allergies (pollen, dust, molds) or side effects of a bad respiratory infection. Once you figure out what causes laryngospasms in your case, they should be much easier to manage, to the point your rarely have them, or not at all. Wishing you lots of health, Helen!

  2. Thank you so much for your reply Marius, I think my laryngospasms are connected to my respiratory infection, but to perhaps a greater extent my anxiety issues. After posting to you this morning I made a phone call to my therapist, it was emotional and I suffered another spasm during the call. I get to see my GP tomorrow so hopefully he will be able to advise me further. I will take a print out of your response also. I’ve no idea other than coughing and feeling full of mucus what set this off in the first place. Perhaps as you suggested acid reflux may be an answer. At the moment I’m 100% focused on this awful symptom which I know is not good to do. I am reassured by what you’ve said so I must try and put it behind me, but it’s hard. I’m not eating or sleeping and am worrying far too much for my own good. Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this.

    • I am happy I could at least reassure you a little, Audrey. I am confident it will be fine. You just need to take good care of yourself and get over this respiratory infection which may very well help improve the issue with laryngospasms too. As you said, the episodes can be caused or amplified by anxiety too, especially a panic attack. It’s also great that you are going to the doctor for answers. That’s always the best thing to do when you are dealing with health issues of any kind. Wishing you lots of health and hope to hear back from you with good news.

    • Phew…am in the right place..
      So, end of Jan 18 I caught me second cold virus of UK winter.
      Same as usual: horrendous hacking, sleep stealing sleep for 3 weeks, but felt too guilty to rest and recover as am my Dads reluctant carer, and he’s 500 mile round trip from me. Must be a bit of anxiety as my children are with me in London. Torn… after 3 weeks and this vile UK winter that kept throwing minus temperatures at us like a disgruntled lover. Not quite able to leave the room; my cold took an alarming turn where by I could not get air. Wind pipe closing up several times an hr..5 A and E at Chelsea Hospital, 2 x 999, 1 by a neighbor who found me in the stairwell almost passing out from lack of oxygen. 2 emergency Dr’s… Please note this search for medical help was in a 12 day time frame. Too scared to sleep as it’s worse at night.
      Had to travel 250 miles to ‘care’ for my 92 yr old dad in Wales. Had an attack first night.
      Chelsea and Westminster hospital just kept putting me back on the streets. One emergency Dr. gave me amoxicillin after receptionist found me collapsed in corridor, not able to breathe.
      My 19 yr old daughter made me view links for larygospasm.
      The Welsh Drs, 999, paramedics were totally confused that no London Dr’s or medical staff could diagnose and assist.
      To be fair, this is a truly, truly terrifying illness to view, and have. I lost my JOB because my boss thought it looks horrendous when I’m having an attack and it does look like someone is going to die quickly. It’s agonizing to try and find a ‘technique’ to get oxygen back into the lungs. There’s phlegm frothing, drooling, weird noises; it’s not a good look for clients.
      My 19 yr daughter got up a link on ‘STRAW BREATHING”. It’s given me the techniques to control the attacks and get air into the lungs. I’m on super vitamins of everything, social have spoken about putting dad into ‘care’ as this recent illness has placed mas as a non viable carer. It’s quite serious, but in my case, have found it extraordinary difficult to get diagnosed in Chelsea. One of my A and E admittance was when I collapsed on the pavement not yet having the techniques on how to control and manage it and the strangers got me to A and E put me in a wheel chair… yet still ..the hospital put me back on the streets advising me I was ‘still alive’ and if I wanted any ‘testing’ go and pay for it privately.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your experience with laryngospasms. It’s unbelievable how you’ve been treated. Indeed, laryngospasms are terrible to have, but mostly because they have no conventional treatment and you have to rely on reducing risk factors, managing air humidity, diet, acid reflux etc.
      In your case, like in many others, laryngospasms have occurred after a bad respiratory infection and they may continue until you’re fully recovered. This is why it’s important to start taking good care of yourself.
      It could help to have your doctor run some tests to see if your lungs are okay, if you need antibiotics further and proceed to managing the condition.
      If your doctor prescribes medication like Ventolin, have it with you at all times.
      If it’s discovered you have acid reflux, manage it with medication and diet (read more about what Foods to Eat and to Avoid for Acid Reflux).
      Have water with you at all times and stay hydrated to avoid dry throat and mouth which could bring about a laryngospasm episode.
      Allergies to pollen can trigger an episode too, so be careful this spring.
      For me, the most useful thing to do when I had a laryngospasm was to turn on the hot water in the shower and let the bathroom fill with humid air. It really helped my breathing and made the episode pass easier.
      And just as important, try to remain calm during a laryngospasm because your breathing will be reduced for a little while and panicking will only make you need more oxygen and increase the severity of the laryngospasm. Hope this helps and wishing you lots of health!

  3. Hello, Marius. Dr. agreed with me and just gave me meds for anxiety, trouble is I’ve felt very vulnerable since. I think I’m bringing them on myself. As I type I’m trying to control a spasm. Do you think distraction technique would work?
    I’ve had a very dry mouth and throat from the meds today and felt nauseous and spaced out. I cannot control them yet Marius and I’m feeling so scared again.

    • Hello, Audrey. It’s important that you realize that even if your laryngospasms are caused by the anxiety, they may also be more frequent because of the dry mouth and throat from the medication. I think that these are side effects that you need to control because they can trigger your laryngospasms to the same extent as the respiratory infection and anxiety itself.
      When I was dealing with anxiety a few years back I found taking magnesium supplements helped a lot. More specifically, it helped keep me calm and relax and not focus so much on those negative feelings and panic I was experiencing. You could talk to your doctor about this and work out a solution to include magnesium supplements as an adjacent therapy. But it’s important to talk this through with your doctor and together work out the details. Maybe it could help you too. Wishing you lots of health.

  4. Marius, my Dr. didn’t say much about the spasms, perhaps he is not that familiar with them. I am getting quite anxious and upset because the only person I can turn to is yourself. I seem to have a repeated laryngospasm that is not giving me any peace, as soon as I sort it out it’s there again. I could perhaps get magnesium supplement OTC.
    Apart from not wanting me to spend too much time in his surgery (said I was highly contagious) I’m not sure he appreciated me taking a print out. Uk Drs. are a bit that way inclined. He has asked to see me in 2 weeks unless I have problems. Sorry to be a bit of a nuisance but up to now I don’t know who else will give me good sense answers.

    • Actually, Audrey, not a lot of doctors are familiar with laryngospasms and often attribute them a psychosomatic origin. But while our mental health and emotional state do factor in when it comes to laryngospasms, they are just as much triggered by physical factors (dry mouth, dry throat, eating salty foods that dry out the throat lining, dry air in the house, respiratory infections, allergens like pollen, dust or mold, medicines that disintegrate and leave dusty particles on the throat lining, drying it out, medicines that cause dry mouth and throat and a lot of other very real causes).

      How is your respiratory infection? Is it better and have symptoms improved? Because this is an important element with regards to your laryngospasms. Both the infection itself with the cough and the treatment, the antibiotics (via stomach acidity), could trigger the episodes. Have you noticed if your laryngospasms occur more frequently at certain hours of the day or after certain activities? It could help narrow down other causes.

      In any case, try to be as calm as possible. It may help to distract yourself, maybe see a movie, listen to some music you like, cook a little, read a book you’ve been wanting to read. It could help to avoid talking much, especially if you have a sore throat. This is another factor that could trigger the laryngospasms. They are usually not harmful, just scary. That’s why I advanced the idea that the magnesium supplements could help.
      However, I would not want for it to interact with your medication which is why it’s best to wait until you see your doctor again and discuss things with calm. Just take good care of yourself so you recover from this infection as soon as possible. Maybe have a friend stay with you to keep you company and help you not think about this so often.

      As for the doctor’s reaction, it’s understandable. Often times doctors feel we are overstepping our boundaries when we address certain issues or ask about or propose certain solutions. Don’t hold it against him. When you see your doctor next time, you could simply tell him about wanting to take some magnesium supplements and ask to tell you what magnesium forms he recommends, what dosage and whether it’s safe to supplement given your medication. He should have answers for you. It could help to not mention where the idea came from so he doesn’t feel someone else is trying to do his job for him. After all, it’s his professional opinion about an adjacent therapy you are interested in that matters and he should be able to provide you with professional answers. If he dismisses you, then look for someone more willing to address his patient’s concerns.

      As for you, stay hydrated (especially since you anxiety medication is causing dry mouth and dry throat), eat well, avoid dry air, foods that are too spicy, too salty or too sweet, get enough sleep and try to not think about laryngospasms all the time. As soon as you get better from the infection, you can start to tackle other potential causes of your laryngospasms, that is if they don’t go away after you get better. And don’t worry, I understand very well how it must feel to experience laryngospasms, so if I can help in any way, I am happy to do so.

  5. Hello Marius, my chest infection (laryngitis) is clearing up, just a little residue left at the back of my throat causing me to cough and try to clear my throat. Voice still not back to normal, though. Not on any meds now apart from OTC lozenges, cough syrup etc. Had a bad time this weekend. Dr. gave me some new meds for anxiety that I feel didn’t suited me causing even more anxiety, wooziness, dry mouth, insomnia and finally vomited a couple of times. This is making me think about future spasms and even though I’ve had none still massively overthinking this stuff.

    • Ok, Audrey. So, it’s good the infection is getting better and that you haven’t had other laryngospasms. It’s possible they stop altogether once the cough is gone completely and you get your voice back (until your voice is back to normal, you’ll still have irritated vocal cords and is best to avoid talking too much).
      The anxiety medication could be a problem because they are causing a dry mouth and this is a common trigger for laryngospasms. You should talk to your doctor about all the side effects you are experiencing and either ask to adjust your dosage or change your medication if the side effects don’t improve. Out of all the anti-anxiety medication out there, there has to be better ones for you. Until then, try to stay hydrated to counteract the dry mouth.
      Also, you can ask your doctor about supplementing with magnesium, just avoid formulations that leave a dusty powder because it may stick to the throat and possibly encourage a laryngospam (normal tablets, effervescent magnesium or powder magnesium that you mix with water should be okay and it could help to take a couple of sips of water after taking any of them just to make sure nothing’s stuck to the throat lining).
      Lastly, the worry is normal. I speak from experience when I say that the fear of having a laryngospasm stays with you for some time after the episodes stop. You have to take each day as it comes. Just take good care of yourself and it should be alright. Hope this helps.

  6. Thank you so much for helping me Marius, my Dr. will be phoning me today, I will certainly ask him about magnesium supplements, I would much prefer a more natural approach for such an ongoing condition. I didn’t take any more of the upsetting meds and have managed to control my anxiety attacks. Maybe he will agree, maybe not, at least he may agree to sorting out my meds at a later date. Is there a problem with me buying OTC magnesium supplement? Just wondered!
    I do hope you’re right about the laryngospasms not coming back. You are a very kind person and knowledgeable, thank you for being here for me!

    • Thank you, Audrey, you are such a sweet person! I am just trying to help because I have suffered from laryngospasms for a long time and know how frustrating and worrisome they can be. As for the magnesium supplements, they should be fine, just that you are taking anxiety medication and only your doctor can say for sure if the supplements can interact with them and how. I feel it’s always best for anyone following any form of treatment to ask the professional opinion of their doctor.
      I am happy to hear that you are in better control of your anxiety attacks and hope your doctor will manage to find the right treatment for you. And remember, you can always ask for a second opinion and a third and a fourth. If a doctor is unwilling to work with you in finding a treatment suited to your individual medical needs, you can always see another doctor. Wishing you lots of health!

  7. This is a brilliant site, Marius, I’m glad I found it and you. You have reassured me greatly and I cannot thank you enough for that. Long may you and the site continue.
    This I’m hoping will be my last comment because I’ve not had any more spasms (even though I worry about it). I have to try and put it behind me while I can. My Dr. agreed for me to try a magnesium supplement, he’d not heard of this for anxiety. We are leaving off any anxiety meds for now to see how things go. I still have this lingering virus to contend with, it just doesn’t want to leave me. If in the future I need to I hope I can post another comment, meanwhile I wish you well too!

    • Thank you so much, Audrey, and I am so happy to see things are improving for you. As for the virus, know that some flu and cold viruses may persist for up to 3 weeks, so give it time. In the meantime, continue to take good care of yourself. If you want to read more about the common cold, the flu, differences between the two and other related subjects, go the the menu above, Health page, section on Immunity (last icon).
      It’s good you are trying to move on. This should help you not focus so much and maybe relieve some of the anxiety and, at the same, help with the laryngospasms.

      As for the magnesium supplements, I took magnesium carbonate (300 mg).
      This was a powder magnesium that you mix in a glass of water. It comes in separate bags of 300 mg of magnesium and I took one a day. It did wonders for me. You can choose other forms, but it might be best to avoid magnesium oxide because it has the lowest bioavailability of all forms (read more on Magnesium forms: Which to choose). If you get the powder magnesium, make sure you drink some water afterwards to clear any remaining particles from the throat lining.

      The recommended daily intake of magnesium as of 2016 is 420 mg a day for adults, so a 300 mg magnesium bag should be enough to cover any deficiency, assuming you are getting some magnesium from your diet as well. Your doctor can recommend a higher intake, but it’s really up to him and you, depending on whether or not you will experience improvements in your anxiety. Supplementing with magnesium should also help with muscle health, for example, improve leg cramps at night or eyelid twitching and can even have benefits for cardiovascular health.

      I am happy for you, Audrey, that you are feeling better and hope your health improves even more! If you ever have any questions that you may think I can help with or if you just want to read some interesting articles, you’re welcome anytime. All the best!

  8. I’ve been sick for about 2 days, lots of coughing and mucus (little bit of blood after a bad coughing fit but it went away).
    Well today while taking a shower my throat kept closing up. Ended up stopping my shower because I just couldn’t breathe.
    And every time I’d think the episode was over and I got my breathing controlled I’d have to cough and my lungs would close up again.
    This has been going on for twelve hours now.
    What can I do?

    • Hello, Jessica. It could be laryngospasms. And they may very likely be caused by this respiratory infection you are having and triggered by the coughing. It’s best to see your doctor as soon as possible for tests. Very important: tell your doctor that you coughed a little blood. This is extremely important information. As soon as you will recover from this respiratory infection you should see improvements in your laryngospasms. So please make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible so you can receive adequate treatment. Wishing you lots of health and hope to hear back from you with good news!

  9. Hello, I was just sitting down watching tv, drinking some tea, when I had a laryngospasm. I have had them before, I take chewable medication when possible. Anyway, I spit out the tea, and of course, stood up, tried to breathe, and panic set in. Just trying to figure out why this happened. I seriously concentrate when I swallow for fear of this happening.

    • I am sorry to hear this, Suzy. I know how it feels to have laryngospasms, especially occurring all of the sudden without an apparent reason. There are a number of reasons behind why laryngospasms happen. In you case, it can be anything from the chewable medication which can leave grainy particles on the throat lining and dry it out to acid reflux, either symptomatic or silent. The laryngospasm could have very well occurred because of some side effect of the medication, allergic reaction to the tea, dry air in the house, dust in the air, a respiratory infection such as the common cold or the flu.
      You need to investigate the possible causes of your laryngospasms and narrow down the triggers. Try to observe when they are most likely to occur, think about what you were doing right before that, what you just ate, if you just took your medication, things like that. This should help you identify the cause and allow you to avoid future episodes. In the meantime, make sure you are well hydrated, have some water with you at all times, avoid foods that cause acidity (please see menu, health page, stomach section for an article on foods to eat and to avoid for acid reflux) and try to eat at least 3 hours before lying down to sleep. And if you have more questions, I’d be happy to share with you more of my experience with laryngospasms. Wishing you lots of health, Suzy!

  10. This is kind of embarrassing but I got in a massive fight with my husband and in the middle of it my throat closed up and I couldn’t breathe! It happened three times in a row, and now my throat is really sore. I couldn’t find anything else that could have caused it. One of the causes I see is panic/fear of imminent death. I didn’t feel that, just pretty intense anger. Anyone experience this or know whether it can be a cause? I’m still not breathing great a couple of hours later, but it doesn’t feel closed up or anything. I’m supposed to have surgery in a couple days so I want to be able to breath under anesthesia.

    • Hi, Jane. First of all, if you are not breathing well, it might be best to seek medical attention.
      It’s also wise to talk to your doctor about this, considering you’re having surgery this soon. The doctor will surely want to know about it and want to investigate the cause behind your laryngospasm-type episodes to make sure you can have the surgery safely.
      Secondly, it’s not that uncommon to experience laryngospasms before a big event in your life. In your case, the approaching date of the surgery may be giving you anxiety and this can be a cause for laryngospasms. The argument with your husband could also have been enough of a stressful event to trigger a laryngospasm. If you have been talking loudly or yelling for even a couple of minutes, this could lead to dry mouth and throat and could have predisposed to a laryngospasm. The intensity of the argument could have easily lead to a rush of adrenaline which could be a trigger for laryngospasms as well.
      Then there are other possible causes like severe magnesium deficiency (made worse by anxiety), a respiratory infection of some sort (although the sore throat could be because of talking too much or arguing loudly), dry air in the house, inhaling dust or other allergens, not drinking enough water etc. Hope this helps and wishing you lots of health!

  11. Hi Marius,
    Just found this site this morning after a miserable night. I have suffered laryngospasms for many years off and on. They scare hubby more than me because of the sound when I am trying to breathe in. I have chronic post nasal drip from a thyroid condition that is dragging on as we titrate my thyroid levels up. My thyroid died slowly. The drip causes a lot of coughing in the morning which seems to set up the irritation of the vocal cords. However, I also know I have silent GERD. I have found one thing that works miracles when having an episode. I have a little vaporizer that lets you place your face into a plastic mold over a little basin that holds water. You plug it in and the water makes steam which you can concentrate because of the face mask. The steam thins the mucus in my nose and throat, relaxes my vocal cords and lets me breathe again. I am allergic to almost all anti acids but Tums and Pepcid. As long as I remember to take a Pepcid pill with dinner I am good to go all night. Forgot last night and had a greasy pizza for late lunch. You are right in that almost all my spasms happen at night while laying down. Pepcid helps greatly as a preventive as does the little personal vaporizer when a laryngospasm happens. Plus I use a saline sinus rinse in the mornings which cuts down the mucous that has collected so cuts the excess coughing! I am lax sometimes in doing the daily work needed to stop the spasms. When I remember things go well.

    • Hello, Holly. Have you maybe considered that the main cause of your laryngospams is actually the silent GERD that has been going on for years? If treated, GERD should improve by a lot or even go away, given medication and a good diet. But if not treated, it can cause continual acid reflux and laryngospasms, not to mention it gets worse over time as the damage builds up and so do the laryngospasms which may become more frequent or severe.

      Tums is an antacid and does nothing when it comes to actually treating GERD, just manages symptoms. Pepcid is a histamine-2 blocker medicine that lowers production of stomach acid. But not even Pepcid treats GERD by itself. You still need to change your diet and absolutely not eat pizza, greasy foods of any sort, heavy meals, drink caffeine or eat problematic foods for acid reflux such as tomato sauce. I think that in two weeks time on a good diet, you should see major improvements in your acid reflux and your layryngospasms should become a lot less frequent. It could help to get medication from your doctor like proton pump inhibitors to help you manage your silent acid reflux while the dietary changes come into effect. Know that you can’t treat GERD just with medication while eating problematic foods. Diet is decisive. At the same time, it’s not good to let GERD continue because it increases your chances of stomach cancer and esophagus cancer. And taking medication for it can, in time, lead to frail bones, osteoporosis and other side effects. If you go to the Menu above, Health section, Stomach icon, you will find several useful articles on acid reflux causes, management and foods to eat and to avoid for acid reflux, a detailed list. It could help you learn to avoid problematic foods that might be triggering your GERD.

      The reason why I suspect your GERD is the cause of your laryngospasms for the most part is because of the postnasal drip you mention. Often times, when the esophagus is irritated and inflamed from stomach acid, your body increases production of mucus to better protect the mucous lining. Actually, postnasal drip is a common symptom in chronic GERD.
      I like the little vaporizer mask you mention. It seems extremely helpful. I haven’t found such a product when my laryngospasms were at their peak and it would have been great to have had one too. I had to rely on turning on the hot water in the shower to make steam in the entire bathroom. Also, the saline rinse is a great solution for maintaining the health of the nasal passages. If you do decide to change your diet, I would love to hear about your progress, foods that trigger acid reflux for you and your overall experience with managing GERD through diet. Wishing you lots of health, Holly!

  12. Hello, I’m relieved to come across all this info. I had a spasm 4 nights ago, a really severe one. I was totally unable to bring in/out ANY air for a good 20+ seconds. I seen that sniffs or slow breathing, drinking water etc. are recommended to help break the laryngospasm attack, but what if u simply can’t as I could not breathe even the slightest bit the 1st 20 seconds. Is it common amongst others to not have the ability to breathe? Seem most can get some air and or have stridor? Am I different? Or a more severe case? When do I call 911 etc.? I live really far out of town, at least 40 minutes to hospital. No panic attacks have set in over it and I’m unable to sleep although this page so far in 15 minutes has helped me more than I ever thought possible. Thank you.

    • Hello, Leah. The best thing to do when you first experience a laryngospasm is make an appointment with your doctor to check if you are okay. If there are no underlying conditions causing it, then it’s really all about management. Do keep in mind that there are triggers that make laryngospasms worse or more frequent. For example, if you experience laryngospasms at night more often than during the day, it is possible they are triggered by acid reflux, maybe a silent acid reflux. In this case, it’s ideal to watch what you eat, avoid problematic foods like fatty, fried foods, heavy meals, acidic foods (tomatoes, tomato sauce, citrus and citrus juices etc.), coffee, alcohol, cocoa, chocolate and make sure you eat at least 3 hours before going to sleep. We have some great articles on foods to eat and to avoid for acid reflux if you go to the Menu above and choose Health then Stomach section.
      Laryngospasms can be brought on by dry air, allergens or a respiratory infection. It’s important to try to understand what causes these episodes for you, have some tests at the doctor’s and manage your diet and lifestyle by staying hydrated, eating right and controlling the environment you spend most of your time in.

      As for your concerns, nothing about laryngospasms is normal, natural or common. But it is not uncommon to not be able to take air in for 20 seconds or longer. It’s worse for some people and better for others. In any case, seeing a doctor for tests is imperative so you can at least rule out underlying conditions. It’s important to try to remain as calm as possible when you have a laryngospasm because panicking will increase your need for oxygen and make the episode worse. Turn on the hot water in the bathroom and calmly breathe in the humid air to help your throat muscles relax. Your doctor may even prescribe you asthma medication in case of an emergency to help open your airways and help you deal with the laryngospasm. If you do get prescribed asthma medication, it is important you have it with you at all times, even if you may never use it. Also, have water with you all the time. Water works for laryngospasms caused by acid reflux or inhaling allergens and sparkling water is even better than still water in this situation. If you feel you require medical help, do no hesitate to call 911. It could help to have someone there for you. The emotional support alone can help one better deal with these occurrences. And remember, there is a reason you had a laryngospasm now and finding the cause of it can help you understand how to avoid other episodes in the future.
      Hope this helps and wishing you lots of health, Leah!

  13. Thank you. I’m a bit more at ease just knowing I’m not the only one, I’m hoping if it happens again I won’t be so panicked and maybe it will be less severe.

    • Trying to be as calm as you can possibly be can help a lot in these situations. It could also help to see a doctor and learn more about what this is exactly. It can provide you with valuable knowledge about how to better handle the situation. Wishing you lots of health, Leah, and if you ever have any questions, I am happy to help.

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