Hyperactive gag reflex is an ordinary reflex action caused due to contraction of pharynx muscles when the soft palate or posterior pharynx is stimulated. It is a common feeding problem among children. This article provides brief information regarding the same.
Hyperactive gag reflex is the body’s response to the stimulation of soft palate or posterior pharynx. The condition becomes problematic when an individual finds it difficult to eat certain foods or perform certain activity. It is a very common feeding disorder among children. If your baby throws up and chokes herself every time you try to feed her with certain foods, it could be due to hyperactive gag reflex. Children with this disorder simply refuse to take solid foods or foods with particular texture. This makes it impossible to feed them.
There are no particular causes of this condition as such. It’s just an aversion to certain textures of food that induces a severe urge to gag. Certain activities that need you to open your mouth for a long time or putting something in the mouth can also result in a gag. Basically, anything that brushes against the soft palate and stimulates it, results in a gag. Adults may experience it while getting a dental job done, which requires the person to keep his mouth open for a very long time. Moreover, during a dental job, certain instruments or solutions stimulate the soft palate and aggravate the feeling to gag.
Gag Reflex in Children
The condition is not only traumatic for children, but also deprives them of important nutrients. Most infants with this condition refuse almost every food except breast milk. Any attempt to forcibly feed solid food results in excessive gagging. Some children prefer only foods with certain smooth textures and absolutely hate those with rough textures. Most pediatrics believe that gagging subsides automatically after the child grows up. But until then, it is a real headache for the parents of such children.
Gag Reflex in Adults
In adults, this condition puts restrictions on certain activities. Exercises, diving, swimming, and excessive laughter can all lead to a gag. These activities may cause you to involuntarily gag anywhere, be it at the dentist, gym, or even during a diving lesson. And since it is a ‘reflex’, there is little you can do about it. Though you cannot entirely avoid a gag, you can definitely control it.
Here are some simple tips to control a gag:
- Place your finger on your tongue and slowly move it back towards your throat until you feel the gag.
- Stop when you do; do not remove your finger.
- Then, take 3-4 slow, deep breaths through your mouth.
- Stop and start taking deep breaths from your nose.
- Again switch back to your throat and continue taking a few more breaths until the urge to gag subsides.
- Now, repeat the entire procedure again.
This exercise will definitely help you control gag.
Hyperactive gag reflex in children is only a minor disorder that soon subsides. For adults, the aforementioned tips to control it may help.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.