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How to Suppress a Gag Reflex

Sometimes, we feel nauseous at the worst time possible and need to do something to suppress the gag reflex.

5-Minute Crafts is going to explain all about how to suppress a gag reflex and avoid an awkward situation.

What a gag reflex is

First, we should define the gag reflex. It’s a muscular reflex contraction of the back of the throat caused by touching the roof of the tongue, the area around the tonsils, and the back of the throat. This reflex protects our body — it prevents suffocation because it appears when very big objects get into the throat and might get stuck in it, like big pieces of food.

During the first months of life, the gag reflex won’t allow a child to swallow any food the brain thinks is bad or too big for the stomach, which is why during the first months of a baby’s life, they only eat liquid food. Starting from the age of 6-7 months, the reflex becomes weaker, allowing the child to swallow solid food.

It’s interesting to note that around 10%-15% of people have a hypersensitive gag reflex. So they might want to vomit when they eat sticky foods that might “get stuck” in the mouth (like bananas or mashed potatoes). In severe cases, such sensitivity might make people picky eaters or lead to malnourishment.

How to suppress it

There are several ways to help you battle a gag reflex.

  • Salt: Use the regular salt you have at home. Put it on the tongue or its edge and the sensation will decrease.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing: You need to try and take nice, even breaths in and out through your nose. In this situation, it’s important to reduce the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (the flight-or-fight part of the nervous system).
  • Sounds: Try making some sounds, such as humming.
  • Pressure: Press on the palm of your hand with your fingers of the opposite hand. Studies show that this helps suppress the gag reflex.
5-Minute Crafts/Health/How to Suppress a Gag Reflex
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