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Can't swallow at times...yikes!


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I am just truckin' along the taper path here....and

as I am getting really low in dose, yet ANOTHER

annoying benzo symptom seems to have popped

up.

 

I did a search for "tightness in throat", and quite

a few people have mentioned that on the BB site.

But what I am talking about is when you feel the need to

swallow for some reason---whether drinking

something, eating or if your throat just feels kinda

dry---and for several seconds, you can't swallow.

 

I tell my brain "swallow now" and it won't obey!

I end up with a creepy choking feeling, like my

saliva will not go down or the water I am drinking

or food I might be eating will choke me. Yikes...

this is happening every now and then and always

puts me into a panic state for a short while. Just

wondering if anyone else has had this.

 

Sometimes I bolt awake in the middle of the

night with a very dry/tight-feeling in my throat,

and when I try to swallow, again, my brain will

not do it for awhile. I am keeping throat lozenges

by my bed to keep my throat from drying up.

Am I going nuts? Anyone had this annoying

symptom?

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Dear Love,

 

I had difficulty swallowing to the point where I was on a liquid diet for almost a month.  That turned out to be a really bad idea because it took me another month to get my GI back to solid foods. 

 

You're going the right thing, eating with liquids to wash it down.  I ate lots of purees, like oats, mashed vegetable (squash, mashed potatoes).  I made sure to keep fiber in my diet.  Mints by the ton.

 

Those night panics I call adrenalin rushes.  I started getting them in week 11 off my benzos (but I did a really quick taper, unlike yours) and last night at week 15, for the 4th night in a row, I did not get the adrenalin rush.

 

I think that until your system recovers from the anxiety that rebounds at low doses of benzos, you can expect them.  I get up, go to the bathroom and wet my body to cool down, then I'm usually able to get back to sleep.

 

I'm hoping your slow taper pays off for you and hoping you will have a soft landing.  I've been following your progress and hope you have a speedy recovery.  All the best.

 

 

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Hi Pema - yes I've had that choking feeling too - I think it's the anxiety that causes our throat muscles to tighten....even if we aren't aware of it.

I wake at night with a very dry throat as well but it's again due to my anxiety and I do a lot of hyperventilating.  Just keep hydrated and when you start to choke, just remember that it is w/d and it will pass. 

HOping2BFree

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Thank you to each and every one of you ... somehow the

idea that is was anxiety-related didn't occur to me...duh.

It felt so physical and I felt no anxiety beyond that one

symptom.

 

I will follow all your excellent tips ... you all helped alot.

Thanks ....

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I was put on xanax in 1993 because of throat tightness that came on suddenly and felt like I couldn't eat.  It sure relaxed the throat muscles, but now still fighting coming off benzos & this is the hardest problem for me.  Feels like choking alot, but still eating soft foods, etc.

 

It will go away or lessen, when you are off.  I do know that.

 

aryana

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Hi Lovepema, I agree with the others that it may be partly anxiety but also can be withdrawal related.  I think the anxiety and what we tell ourselves when a symptom comes on can worsen or lessen the physiological impact (which it partly may be as well).  Yet with time, as you put more distance between you and a benzo, I believe the nerves and CNS heal and with some relaxation techniques, you will be able to get past this difficult reaction.

 

Best wishes,

 

Vertigo

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Thanks you guys .... I guess I always think of anxiety

being a "thinking" related symptom.....that you get

yourself all worked up and fearful and that creates

the anxiety. I am now realizing that anxiety can be

a physical manifestation----tight throat, rapid heart-

rate, tightness in the chest, etc. I agree that after

some of these sx kick in, then you DO get fearful

mentally. All-in-all, it's NO PIECE OF CAKE! I am

much more empathetic towards patients I take

care of in the middle of full-blown panic attacks...

Man, it must be the pits....

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Thanks you guys .... I guess I always think of anxiety

being a "thinking" related symptom.....that you get

yourself all worked up and fearful and that creates

the anxiety. I am now realizing that anxiety can be

a physical manifestation----tight throat, rapid heart-

rate, tightness in the chest, etc. I agree that after

some of these sx kick in, then you DO get fearful

mentally. All-in-all, it's NO PIECE OF CAKE! I am

much more empathetic towards patients I take

care of in the middle of full-blown panic attacks...

Man, it must be the pits....

 

Hi Lovepema.  When I suddenly got vertigo after my c/t 3 years ago, I became "scared", not knowing what it was.  I thought it could be that I was having a stroke because I was so dizzy that I fell over, seemingly going numb for a minute.  My mother had a fatal stroke in her sixties, so it is in my family history.  After the spinning sensation of the vertigo and falling over, my own thoughts and anxiety  led to "palpitations" which I then thought could lead to a heart attack, thus causing even more rapid heart rate!  I ended up getting a series of cardiac tests at the ER and several weeks later had other tests done, which all turned out normal.  Ultimately, I decided to reinstate 5mg valium after that c/t that led to the vertigo.  

 

However, the palpitations were brought on by my own fear that the vertigo was or could be a stroke...  I have heard that panic attacks can "make one" feel like one is going to "die".  Heart rate starts going very fast and much of it is self induced or worsened by our own reactions, some of which seem to be mental/emotional.  Just being aware of the process that can occur will hopefully lead to less and less symptoms for you with regard to the throat tightening.  Paradoxically, accepting whatever sensations occur in withdrawal can be more helpful than resisting  physical withdrawal symptoms or side effects that might manifest.  I realize it might be difficult to "accept" a sensation of choking or throat tightening as it was for me regarding palpitations.

 

By the way, I did have heart palpitations on two other occasions (last year) which I believe were self induced.  On both occasions, I had walked upstairs (3 and 6 months post taper) and felt a little faint/off balance.  This must have triggered a reminder of that vertigo, both the off balance sensation and the fact that I was back in my bedroom where I had gotten vertigo and fell over in 2008.  As my heart started to race, I gently told myself that I was not having a heart attack, that I had no chest pain, and that it was a mild side effect of having tapered off valium recently.  I also took one or two deep diaphragmatic breaths.  Within 10 seconds, my heart rate slowed down and I knew that it would pass (as opposed to me passing out :)).  That off balance/dizzy feeling like one might pass out or faint can feel almost like "out of body" or maybe what some people describe as depersonalized? or maybe it is DR?, which can give one a thought that one might be near death since one feels quite strange and in "no man's land".  Anyway, that was my experience with vertigo and what I describe on my blog as "mini panic", since it didn't get the best of me.  I wish you the same.  The cog/fog and off balance symptoms did wane over the course of my first year off valium, which ended last November.  

 

I should probably also note that after having some wine and not eating the most healthy foods over the summer months at 7 and 8 months off valium last August, I ran into a setback where I started to feel off balance again,  with jelly legs and elevated blood pressure.  I had also gained about 15lbs in that first half year off valium.  My doctor wanted to put me on beta blockers and so on but I decided to turn around my diet and exercise and abstain from alcohol for a while.  Within about 3 weeks, my blood pressure was normal and the off balance sensations were gone and have not returned.  I guess doctors always want to solve a problem with a pill, but in this case it was "not needed" :yippee:.  I've since had very good cholesterol and BP readings.

 

I would strongly recommend avoiding alcohol in the first year after taper.  It impacts GABA and I believe confuses the healing CNS and can slow healing and/or cause setbacks.   I recently had a couple glasses of wine at 18 months off and felt a slight off balance sensation getting up off the sofa and this led to a slight increase in heart rate but it went away almost immediately as I told my self it was "normal" to feel a little "tipsy" after 2 glasses of wine.   Maybe I "should" just stay away from the vino for good.  I've thought about it but I do enjoy it on occasion.  You can read more about my story on my blog "under 4mg and chipping away" or check out my recent "success story" at 18 months.  Sorry if I went on a tangent regarding alcohol.  The bottom line is that I believe "withdrawal" side effects can manifest as a combination of both physical and mental/emotional causation.

 

Best wishes :smitten:,

 

Vertigo

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Hi lovepema,

I still have the throat thing. It is more than globus hystericus (aka, cicopharyngeal spasm, aka, plum stone throat). It started out as that, but then my upper esophagus tightened up one day and freaked me out. Then it started to tighten on the wind pipe side too and I would feel this awful shortness of breath. That at least has gone away, yeah!

Lately it is more the back of my tongue and the very top of my esophagus that feel tight. I chew my food thoroughly and eat slowly. If I eat too fast it often feels like the food is a bit stuck going down, very unpleasant! Sometimes after eating my throat will feel uncomfortable for a good half hour.

It is anxiety related in that it eases to the point where I even forget about it sometimes when my anxiety is down. But it hasn't gone away for me yet. I know it will go away eventually so I'm not worried about it anymore. I have learned to accept it. It was hard and took a while. The more I went back to my old eating habits despite the discomfort, the easier it got. As I learned to accept it, the sensation became less. Still there, but less so.

The fearfulness I have heard described as a mental symptom (as opposed to physical) of withdrawal, and I totally agree with this. During my windows, I am so much more reasonable and able to think things through.

THe only things I have found that helps the throat, tight-swallowing thing is 'acceptance' and a magnesium supplement. I still won't swallow pills, so I dissolve the magnesium (and a few other vitamins now) in a small amount of water. It dissolves very quickly and then I mix it in my yogurt. I started taking a half tab (about 125mg) and now take more like 375mg daily. You know you are taking too much if your stools get too loose and it relaxed those muscles as well. ; )

For the dry mouth/throat, I swish biotene mouthwash and chew xylitol gum (Spry is better than biotene). I try to keep my mouth closed when I breath. So I often have to use a neti pot to help my nose-breathing. All these things have helped ward off the last three colds that passed through our house! Touch wood ; )

For the anxiety, I found reading and listening to the Claire Weekes books and audio tapes very helpful. I also use guided meditation and am learning to meditate on my own. So some good things come out of this whole mess. I know meditation will be a valuable tool for my life even after I am totally recovered.

SO sorry that you have the throat thing too. It is horrible, but it too will pass.

-Tanya

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Hi Tanya.  Just to add to the PM I sent you, I think you're on the right track with meditation and mindfulness.  I agree that it will hopefully be a useful took for a long time, not just something to help get through the benzo journey...  Also, I've heard good things about Claire Weekes books and tapes though I have not read any personally.

 

Best wishes,

 

Vertigo

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Thanks to all you guys for replying.....it seems to have

let up for now. But who knows---I am sure it will be back!

At least I know I am not gonna croak .... and I am not alone

in having this symptom. Thanks again.

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Very glad to hear that things are going well and that the throat thing has subsided.  It seems I've read a few other folks have this symptoms on forum, can't recall who else at the moment.  Anyway, best of healing to you.

 

:smitten:

 

V

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So glad your throat is better Lovepema. Usually once you accept the symptom, it will go away or at least become less annoying. ; )

We're all just glad to help, as we know what it is like, having been there ourselves!

-Tanya

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I agree that once we accept and "own" whatever is going

on with us during our taper (and any other time in our

lives for that matter) --- well, it sure does take the hat

off the pressure cooker we are in. I know at times I fight

against what's going on, and that's just plain fruitless at

this point. I am having a good day today for the most

part, and for that I am thankful. The AA adage of "One

Day At A Time" certainly applies to all of us....heck,

maybe even one HOUR at a time.  Thanks again ....

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