Significant gag reflex can be a problem for people of any age, since it can affect both children and adults. This condition is not uncommon and it is actually the response of our body to stimulation of the posterior pharynx or soft palate. For most people gag reflex is not problematic, but some individuals might have trouble with it. This is especially true if you happen to experience gag reflex after some activities or after eating some foods.
Hyperactive gag reflex is frequently seen in small children. Babies suffering from this problem may refuse to eat anything solid or anything that have certain texture, causing a lot of problems to their parents at feeding time. Certain foods may cause significant gag reflex, so the child throws up and starts choking when you try to give him or her something solid to eat.
What Causes Hyperactive Gag Reflex?
This problem is not caused by any specific thing. The person suffering from this problem simply cannot stand certain foods or texture of foods and he/she ends up gagging. This can be any type of food which brushes against the soft palate – if it stimulates this area of the mouth it is going to cause gagging.
Other than food, gag reflex may be provoked by situations when you need to open the mouth for a long period of time, like at the dentist’s. Also, some people might be sensitive to instruments or solutions in the mouth, so they could gag during some dental job.
What to Do?
In children, hyperactive gag reflex may be a real problem. Besides being very traumatic experience for any kid it can also cause certain health issues because children need minerals and nutrients from the food and it is not healthy not to eat. Breast milk may be enough for very small kids, but after that time they have to start eating solid food. However, pediatricians assure parents that this problem will resolve on its own, when the child grows up. Until that time, try not to worry.
Patients suffering from hyperactive gag reflex usually find it hard to swim, dive, exercise or even laugh uncontrollably, because all of these actions may provoke the reflex. Going to the dentists may also be more than usually uncomfortable due to this problem.
Adults can try several things to control the reflex. Some people advise placing the finger in the mouth and moving it just until you are going to gag. Stop it there and slowly breathe 3 to 4 times, first through the mouth, then through the nose and again through the throat until the urge to gag passes. This simple exercise should help you to control the reflex.