Speech Pathologists Questions Speech Language Pathologist

Gag reflex?

I have been learning Korean for a while now and plan to use it in my future for purposes and speak Korean to people here in America as well. At first, I didn't have these problems when speaking the language but now when I speak it my gag reflex gets triggered and it stops me from being able to converse in Korean. I have not been taking anything for this, and I sometimes take Ibuprofen for pain. Other than that medication I take Zoloft for my depression medication that I have been taking for almost a year now. The only thing that I can think of that might have made my gag reflex overly sensitive when I speak Korean is because I have been recovering from an eating disorder for about a year. I was diagnosed with Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa. I haven't relapsed in a very long time though. Maybe the bulimia made my gag reflex like this? It has always been sensitive though but it has never been a problem. Things like getting my dental x-rays done are really hard because of how sensitive it is but it is only like that when specific things such as dental care and getting grossed out by my senses which doesn't happen a lot. If you could help me that would mean a lot to me because I need to speak this language and I am not able to due to my gag reflex.

3 Answers

Having a problem with gag reflex can be difficult to overcome. Your bulimia issues have probably contributed to this problem. Have you ever had therapy for emotional issues? It seems likely that this would be a first place to start to overcome this problem. Good luck and I hope that you are successful in over coming this problem
Bulimia causes stomach acids to come back up the esophagus into the oral cavity. The strong Hydrochloric Acid can cause permanent scarring of the esophagus, and possibly the posterior portion of the mouth and soft palate, in addition to harming the enamel of the teeth. Have an ENT physician or Oral Surgeon do a good exam of that area, which is where gagging reflex occurs. This is to see if there is any physical damage from the stomach acids.Korean is a beautiful language, and I'm glad you're not having to learn German or a very guttural language, because you'd really be in trouble. It is possible a speech therapist could help you. As far as the dental visits go, some of my patients try lifting one leg when the gag reflex is strong, and that helps. My father would start gagging when I walked into the treatment room, just thinking of having to have his mouth examined.
Good luck with this.
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I would suggest that you read Korean out loud. Like read a Korean newspaper or book. That may help get your mind off of the gagging. Once it is in your mindset that something makes you gag, it is hard to overcome it. Patients that have new dentures often have gagging issues and I tell them the same advice. Read a book, magazine or newspaper out loud. It has helped tremendously with them. Good luck!!!