Choking at night after head and neck radiation.

New Contributor

Choking at night after head and neck radiation.

I thought it would be worthwhile to share my journey on this side effect.

I would wake up from a deep sleep unable to breathe with a windpipe constriction that was similar to the body reacting from a drowning response. Pretty scary at first and freaked my wife out badly. I

First I tried elevating my head in bed by adding a pillow between the mattress and box spring to help with the drainage what little saliva I produce. That helped a little but the choking continued.

I noticed that the choking occurred mostly when I was sleeping on my back.

I tried to arrange pillows to keep me from rolling over on my back at night. but no luck with the pillows.

Next, I took a small backpack and filled it full of towels and strapped it tight.

Eureka! a full night's sleep with no choking. The backpack worked to keep me from rolling onto my back and having the thick saliva choke me.

Yes, it was annoying at first to sleep with a backpack. It has been 3 weeks now and it has just become part of my new "daily normal" along with everything else, like trying to eat without any normal thin saliva, constant dry mouth, mouth ulcers, hyper teeth cleaning, whacked thyroid that won't let me gain weight and neck swelling.

My doctor also prescribed pilocarpine. but so far I don't see any real results from it.

 

 

4 REPLIES 4
Contributor

Re: Choking at night after head and neck radiation.

After reading your post I can understand how much struggle you're having in your daily life because of the side effects of radiation treatment. 

I hope you'll get over these side effects very soon. If you smoke, quit smoking because it can worsen your mouth sore & ulcers. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables

Stay away from acidic foods and spicy foods that could further irritate your mouth. Avoid sharp and crunchy foods, such as chips, crackers, and pretzels, and instead, opt for softer foods cut in small pieces.

Alcohol also can irritate an already sore mouth, so don't drink alcohol or use alcohol-based mouthwash.

Keep in touch with your doctor and seek his advice to cope up with your current situation. 

Best wishes!

New Contributor

Re: Choking at night after head and neck radiation.

Thank you for your thoughts and guidance. The food at this point of my recovery is still oatmeal, soft soups, Boost and yogurt smoothies. So looking forward to more normal foods in the future. 

Still taking a lot of OTC pain reducers as my job doesn't allow me to use any prescription pain medicines.

So no alcohol.

Thanks again 

Dave

Contributor

Re: Choking at night after head and neck radiation.

I hope this pain reducers are working well for you! Btw, which pain reliever are you taking to deal with the pain?

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New Contributor

Re: Choking at night after head and neck radiation.

Tylenol and Advil work pretty well and don't violate any of the FAA/DOT rules so I can continue to work.

 

Thanks again

Dave

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