Quickly eaten, quickly swallowed the bite and it's already happened: A piece of food slips into the air and not in the esophagus and is transported under strong coughing blows back into the air. Everyone has already swallowed - but there are diseases in which the constant ingestion is life-threatening.
The swallowing act and ingestion
In the oral cavity and pharyngeal area, the path of the food, which wants to get shredded into the esophagus, intersects with the path of the breathing air, which flows from above over the nose in the direction of the lungs. That such a "traffic intersection" is susceptible to disorders such as swallowing, is obvious. For the normal swallowing to work, the interaction of several nerves must be coordinated and different processes occur sequentially - turns out only one nerve, the entrance to the trachea is unprotected and food reaches the lungs.
While chewing and the onset of swallowing are influenced and consciously initiated by us, the transport of food from the throat to the stomach is automatic and involuntary. In the process, the epiglottis, which is the upper end of the trachea, reflexively closes, allowing the chyme to simply flow by. If one imagines that an adult swallows up to 2000 times a day, it becomes apparent how rarely this process usually goes awry - which makes it all the more problematic if this process goes without saying for us due to nerve breakdowns.
Why hiccups occur is still unclear. It is believed that it is related to the unborn child's breathing exercises and that the hiccup movement sequence helps babies to suck. Many home remedies help against hiccups - with stubborn, recurrent hiccups, chiropractic is also used.
In which situations does one swallow oneself more often?
A healthy adult is familiar with typical situations predestined to be swallowed: in the short lunch break, one quickly hurries down to a meal, discussing an urgent problem with colleagues, is not distracted by external influences and does not concentrate the food process. Or one eats in a relaxed atmosphere a relaxed meal and then an unforeseen event occurs: it thunders, the doorbell rings, a picture falls from the wall or in the next room a door creaks a creaking wind.
Both lack of concentration and fright can cause the normal swallowing process to stop and the individual processes continue to run erroneously - be it that the food gets into the trachea or too large a bite is swallowed too soon. Coughing fits or pain in the esophagus, while the food is laboriously transported to the stomach, are the consequences.
Infants and toddlers also ingest themselves. However, they are more common in that they take objects in the mouth and inadvertently swallow them during play, which are not intended for consumption. Especially money coins and small toy parts (Lego, components, marbles) are swallowed and reach the gastrointestinal tract in this way. Luckily, these foreign bodies enter the trachea and are usually associated with a severe coughing attack.
The situation is different with people who suffer from a neurological disorder. About half of all stroke patients develop a dysphagia after a short time, which means that eating, drinking and even swallowing the body's own saliva becomes a health risk, because every day there is a risk of aspiration - so is medically the ingress of foreign substances called in the respiratory tract during inhalation - is given.
Other neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, craniocerebral trauma, multiple sclerosis or tumors of the nervous system are associated with an increased aspiration risk. In all these diseases, the normal nerve leads are disturbed, so that the nerve excitation can not proceed in a coordinated manner.
A special case is the aspiration during an operation. Anesthesia overrides the swallowing mechanism, and food or fluid taken shortly before the operation can then run back out of the esophagus and into the trachea - so the anesthesiologists put so much emphasis on preventing it from being planned Operation remains sober!