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Aerophagia: What causes it, and how to stop it?

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BrainsNeedSleep +0 points · over 8 years ago Original Poster Sleep Commentator

I was reading someone else's post about aerophagia, and I started wondering. If we have a hemi-hurricane blowing up our noses/in our mouths at night, and we have an obstruction of any sort, is that when we get air in our stomachs instead? There are only three places for air to go with a PAP mask: (1) leak out of the mask, (2) go in the trachea and the lungs, where it's supposed to go, and (3) down the esophagus and into the stomach. IS the place in the throat that tends to collapse in an obstruction somewhere that would redirect the air? If NOT, then WHY do we get air in our stomachs, and what can we do to prevent it? (My guess: chin straps, not a good option for a claustrophobic) And what can we do to ameliorate it?

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DanM +1 point · over 8 years ago Sleep Enthusiast Support Team

Hi @BNS. Whether air goes down the esophagus during an obstruction depends on where the obstruction occurs. If the obstruction is in the back of the throat, then no air will pass beyond that point. If the obstruction is further down in the airway, then air may pass into the esophagus. Also, swallowing does occur during the night, especially with arousal or movement, so air is sometimes swallowed as part of that process. CPAP patients who are wearing treatment will likely swallow a greater volume of air given the positive pressure. Even patients who do not use CPAP sometimes swallow air during the night. Swallowing air also occurs when we eat and swallow food, which is often why people burp after eating. There have been some studies that have attempted to look at aerophagia in CPAP users that can be found via a Google search of aerophagia and CPAP, but it seems the question of what we can do to ameliorate it is a difficult one to answer and will require more research. Hope this helps!

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