Home Blocked Throat Food Stuck in Throat But Can Breathe, Not Choking

Food Stuck in Throat But Can Breathe, Not Choking

by Dr. Joe Morales

Feeling food stuck in the throat can make you worried. In some instances, the feeling is constant and you can breathe, that is, you are not chocking. If you feel food is stuck at the back of your throat or chest for days, here are the possible causes, remedies and when to see a doctor.

The process of swallowing involves chewing food, moving food into the back of the mouth i.e. the throat, then moving food into the esophagus then finally into the stomach. The process of swallowing takes place without your awareness, therefore it is an autonomic process.

Food stuck in throat

Food stuck in throat

There are many nerves and muscles that participate in this process. The autonomic nervous system controls this rigorous process of swallowing. If the system fails, then there are likely to be cases of food getting stuck in the throat and even though not leading to chocking in the long run.

In the current world, many of us at as we do other activities like walking, watching television, scrolling our phones and even playing. This is very risky and could lead to problems when we swallow food. This is a different case that is independent of the functioning of the nervous system. On the other hand, food can get stuck in the throat when you swallow quickly, don’t chew food properly and many more reasons.

The type of food could also contribute to the food being stuck in the throat. The role of the saliva in the mouth is to moisten it and make it easy to swallow. If you are deficient of saliva or you have taken a lot of dry food like dry piece of bread, then you are likely to encounter the episodes of food being stuck in the throat.

Occasionally, small particles of food will get stuck somewhere between the mouth and stomach, therefore inflicting a lot of pain, irritation or a lumpy feeling in the throat. In order to know what to do when food is stuck in the throat, you should have in mind that in most cases, food tends to dissolve on its own over a period of time and if the piece of food does not cause any chocking or discomfort, then it should be allowed to get dissolved naturally with the help of saliva present in the mouth and the throat.

According to Mayo clinic, the feeling of food getting stuck in the throat is called dysphagia. It is broken into several sub titles that include esophageal dysphagia and oropharyngeal dysphagia. Esophageal dysphagia is a condition where there is a sensation of food sticking or getting hung up in the base of your throat or in your chest after you have started to swallow.

On the other hand, oropharyngeal dysphagia is when some conditions likely weaken your throat muscles making it difficult to move food from your mouth into your throat and esophagus when you begin swallowing. This is condition at an advanced stage may lead to pneumonia.

There are some signs you could look for to know that someone is having some difficulty swallowing food or has food tuck in the throat. These include difficulty in breathing, sometimes you may start wheezing, a cough reflex and a sour taste in the mouth. In some cases as well, someone may encounter difficulties in speaking and when it comes to this extent, medical intervention should be sought right away. This is because the situation could have been brought about by an abnormality.

Feeling of food stuck in throat meaning, causes

Why does food get stuck in my throat? There are so many reasons as to why food is likely to get trapped in your throat. Some of them are related to the types of food that we eat, others due to the manner in which we eat while others are due to the physiology of our throats. An insight into the points below gives a picture of what likely causes food to be trapped in your throat.


This is a term that is used to refer to the condition in human beings that entails the release of gas from the digestive tract, mainly the esophagus and the stomach through the mouth. It is also referred to as belching, bloating, ructus, erupt or eructation.

In most cases, it can be brought about when you swallow air when eating or drinking and subsequently expelling it, and so in this case the expelled gas is mainly nitrogen and oxygen. Apart from that, they can be brought about by consumption of carbonated drinks such as beer, soft drinks, energy drinks and wine.

Burping is normal and it can occur about three to four times a day. It is both a voluntary and an involuntary process. Some people at times burp so loudly that it can be heard by people seated around. If the condition comes so often, then you might be prompted to change what you eat or change the eating styles.

Children should be helped to burp because the presence of so much gas in the stomach would make them uncomfortable and at times could be painful as well as making them highly agitated.

On the other hand, it can be brought about by diabetes drugs that include metformin and byetta especially when taken in higher doses. Ehen this occurs, the case should be examined and assessed by a physician for proper care.

The reason as to why this condition could lead to get trapped in the throat is because as the gas tries to come out, forceful entry of food faces the friction and this would lead to difficulty in swallowing thereby food ending up stuck in the throat. Remember always do one thing at a time and therefore these two cannot be done all at the same time.

After vomiting

When you induce vomiting after a meal, it is likely that you are likely to feel something trapped in your throat. This is not necessarily an indicator that something is really clogged up in your throat. At some times, it could be a strain that you impose on your throat in the course of inducing the vomiting. This therefore should not make you panic at all.

On the other hand, vomiting could lead to release of some acids from the stomach. The acids tend to corrode the walls of the throat and the muscles that surround the throat. This could give you a sensation and a feeling of something stuck in your throat. In real sense, it is not anything much that you should worry. You should be careful to avoid self-induced vomiting.

The other possibility is that your tongue could be trapped in the throat. This happens in most cases because when you vomit, the throat muscles get so tight to some extent that they trap the tongue and hold on it. The case therefore means there is no food but the tongue caught up in the process of vomiting.

In the case above, the condition improves and heals on its own. However, if it fails to resolve, then you might be forced to contact your doctor who will in turn conduct an endoscopy, which will reveal details of the problem that is facing you. This should be done as soon as you can before it becomes a hindrance to your daily activities.


Thyroid disorders can pose a great challenge to food swallowing. This could lead to a feeling of food being stuck in the throat. In most cases, thyroid nodules are the common causes of the difficulty in swallowing that is experienced.

This is a condition that is characterized by lumps in the thyroid gland in front of your neck. This gland is very key to your body because it controls how your body uses energy. Many nodules are not cancer and do not cause any problems. They even might not need any treatments.

When you have a big nodule, you are likely to feel it by the use of your hand around your neck. In the long run you are likely to experience some pain in the throat or feel as if your throat is full. This will lead to you having a hard time when swallowing.

In other cases, when the nodule becomes big, there can be pressure on the surrounding normal structures including the esophagus, the trachea and the blood vessels that bring blood to and fro the head. The resultant of this is a lot of pressure on the front of the neck, and the feeling gets worse when the head is tilted down.

The pressure on the swallowing tube, the esophagus can be noticed by the evident difficulty in swallowing of large pills or dry food such as bread and rice without getting stuck in the lower part of the lower of the front of the neck- throat. On rare occasions, the pressure yielded can affect the voice box, causing hoarseness of the voice.

Always report to the health facility immediately you start experiencing the following signs and symptoms associated with thyroid problems: shortness of breath, abdominal pain, vomiting, confusion and coma. Early diagnosis and treatment can be of great use to rescue the situation.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease, abbreviated as GERD is a medical condition characterized by continuous upsurge of excess acid by the digestive system.

In the course of time, you may also notice an acidic, sour taste in the back of your mouth. These are common symptoms of acid reflux. However, you may not be aware that chronic acid reflux can cause difficulty swallowing, making you feel like food is sticking in your throat. Because this symptom typically indicates a complication of long-term reflux or another serious condition, it’s important to seek medical evaluation.

When you swallow food, the muscles of your throat move food down the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Acid reflux occurs when some stomach contents leak back up into the esophagus. This is normally prevented by a muscular ring called the lower esophageal sphincter.

On the other hand, sometimes the sphincter leaks or opens and allows stomach contents to escape. The acid and digestive juices from the stomach can damage the lining of the esophagus. If you have frequent bouts of acid reflux, you may have a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Some people with GERD may experience difficulty swallowing, i.e. dysphagia in medical terminology. This may be because exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid and enzymes causes inflammation and swelling of the esophagus, making the opening narrower.

Chronic acid reflux can also cause damage that results in a scarring of the esophageal lining. This scarring constricts the diameter of the esophagus, making it more difficult for food to pass. GERD-related narrowing of the esophagus typically affects primarily the passing of solid foods, especially if they are not well chewed. You may have no problem with liquids, but if the abnormalities occur high enough in the esophagus, you may experience choking at some point in time.


Anxiety affects quite literally every part of your body. One of the areas it affects is the esophagus. Anxiety leads to many esophagus problems that are both real and perceived, and when it causes these symptoms it can sometimes lead to other symptoms and fears that create more anxiety.

The biggest effect of anxiety is acid reflux. Anxiety doesn’t actually create acid reflux, but appears to exacerbate acid reflux symptoms. If you already had mild or moderate gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD, also known as simply “acid reflux”), anxiety appears to increase the amount of stomach acids in your body and thus increase your risk for more severe GERD symptoms.

This is a problem not only because acid reflux is a symptomatic disorder, but also because some people – especially those with panic attacks – may find that their anxiety is triggered more often as a result of this increase in GERD symptoms. GERD can cause chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and other symptoms that often trigger more anxiety.

Anxiety causes two issues that lead to a perception of esophagus problems:

However, neither of these are dangerous, because neither of these are actual changes to your health. They are simply your body misinterpreting things that are happening, and causing you to feel poorly as a result.


The biggest issue is hypersensitivity. When you suffer from anxiety, your mind becomes more likely to notice every single negative feeling inside of your body. As a result, it occasionally feels things that you never would have felt without anxiety. For instance, when food travels down your esophagus, your mind may actually feel the food there – almost like it’s stuck there. Nothing has technically changed in your health, but you notice the discomfort more than you ever would before.


In the same line, hyperawareness is yet another effect. This problem comes from making what are otherwise normal movements conscious. You might have noticed that when you think about your breathing you have to breathe manually, almost like your body gives you manual control of something that it usually does on its own. With anxiety, that can happen to all of your muscles, and some people find that they start to have trouble swallowing or difficulty moving food down. That may be the result of your mind giving you too much conscious control on what were otherwise automatic movements.

After tonsillectomy

The tonsillectomy experience presents a lot of pain afterwards, which is more subjective in adults than the young. It is not really well understood why the case is so. You are likely to have mild to severely sore throat in the first two to three weeks after the surgery.

The throat pain picks up about seven to 11 days later and the biggest challenge that you will battle with is eating and drinking. You would be advised to drinks more than you eat but remember water passing the area causes a lot of pain and at the same time, failure to drink water makes the throat drier and more uncomfortable.

Eating food is the most difficulty encounter all the same. Rough foods may scrape the throat and you will feel a lot of pain even though some doctors would still recommend the rough foods as it is said that they clean and help clear up the wound therefore speeding up the healing process.

Due to the uncomfortable feeling and pain encountered in swallowing, you will have difficulties in swallowing and in some instances feel as if some log or lump of food is trapped in your throat. Note however that this is expected and with proper management, the wound will heal and the feeling will go away.

After eating

The problem in this case comes when you have a problem moving food from the mouth to the upper esophagus. It comes with some symptoms to signify the difficulty. They include: drooling, difficulty in trying to swallow, coughing while swallowing, regurgitating liquid through your nose, and breathing in food while swallowing, weak voice and weight loss.

The above symptoms should prompt you to do something about it and that is seek medical attention as soon as you can because it is likely that the condition could be pointing out conditions like tumors, GERD and even stroke. Prompt action and attention helps to do early diagnosis and correction if need has arisen in that regard.

Food stuck in throat but not choking, can breathe

This is likely to happen but you should be aware that the lump will more often dissolve on its own without causing any harm. It is because your body produces a lot of saliva that would help you out a great deal to do away with the food.

The reason for this would be you swallowed the food in a hurry or you did not take enough time to chew the food properly. More still, it is likely that you swallowed a big lump of food. Yet still, it is possible that you swallowed a dry piece of food that was not fully moistened and lubricated by the mouth saliva.

Piece of food stuck in back of throat after eating

This scenario usually indicates some issue with the physiology of the throat being the matter. The problem could be looked into by an ENT specialist who would then give the appropriate medical attention and advice if need be.

Piece of food stuck in throat for days

Small specks of food can stick on the sides or the muscles of your throat form time to time the build up to give a you a sensation of something being trapped in your throat and needs to be removed, you should never panic but always consider perhaps taking some warm water to help dissolve the particles. You should also take fiber and rough foods that will help to dislodge the stuck food.

How to dislodge food stuck in throat

  1. The first thing you always have to do when you notice something stuck in your throat is to lie down flat on the floor and sip on water twice or three times as this may help if the food does not disappear while standing up.
  2. If the food is stuck, the other thing that you could do is to gargle with warm salt water. Be careful if you have a full stomach though, as gargling may cause vomiting. This happens because gargling induces reflux of liquid from the throat, therefore provoking vomiting.
  3. In addition, another method to remove food caught in the throat is to try to eat something soft. The most common to eat in these cases is a piece of bread. Chew this piece so it’s well moistened with saliva and then swallow quickly. In all likelihood, this will move the piece in the throat and force it down. If the piece is stuck hard in the throat, you may have to spit out what you’ve eaten to push it out.
  4. More still, swallowing a spoonful of honey may also help if the piece of food is quite small. The texture of this product will help it slide down. It will help to lubricate the throat and provide a gliding path for the food down to the stomach
  5. Another trick you can try is to cough it out with a controlled, vocal cough. This will constrict the throat and then expel any particles that are stuck. However, be careful when you are taking a breath after coughing, as you could inhale the piece of food and this could cause you to choke.

References and Sources

  1. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/thyroid_problems/page8_em.htm#thyroid_nodules_and_goiter_signs_and_symptoms
  2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/509801-food-sticking-in-the-throat-and-acid-reflux/
  3. http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/esophagus-problems
  4. http://www.tonsillectomyguide.com/blog/tonsillectomy-recovery/
  5. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/dysphagia
  6. http://health.onehowto.com/article/how-to-remove-food-stuck-in-the-throat-2127.html

Leave a Comment

1 comment

Joey Dec 25, 2017 - 2:34 pm

I guess I’ll die.
Well, whatever happens. Happens.