Why Do My Eyes Water When I Choke on Food?


I always like to know the science behind most everything, so this morning when I dang near died on my breakfast potatoes (no mom, it wasn’t my MG, I was just eating too fast out of pure greediness, LOL) I started pondering. I actually started wondering why in the heck my eyes were watering up when I was choking (because for once while I was choking, I was not totally freaked out (I guess my anginophobia really is getting better).

Anyways, I looked it up and here you go for you nerds like me!

“Why, when I choke on food, do my eyes water?”

“The reason for that is because you have various reflexes that are designed to protect your airway. There’s a nerve supply, the internal laryngeal nerve which is sensitive to everything touching your epiglottis inwards and down into your airway. You need to defend your airway very carefully because if anything goes in there it could threaten your ability to breathe. There’s a very profound choking reflex and that triggers a cough. It also triggers various secretions to happen, the idea being that it will lubricate your mouth and anything that’s stuck will get free. At the same time the same secretery, motor system also make your eyes water a bit. It makes tears come to your eyes and also what you’re doing when you’re coughing and choking you’re blowing air up your tear duct. Normally the tears that you’ve got in your eyes drain down little punctum which is a little plug hole in your lower eyelid towards the middle. They go down towards the naso-lacrymal duct and tip into your nose. If you raise the pressure in your nose by coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose the pressure is reversed. It pushes the tears back up your tear duct and into your eye. There’s two things going on. One – you increase the secretions and two you probably jettison some tears back into your eyes.”

Brought to you by — The Naked Scientists


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