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Name: Steve T Wera
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Question:
Why is it that sometimes when you swallow, it feels as if part is stuck in the back of your throat? (Even if you drink water to try and 'wash' the feeling away.)



Replies:
The only time this happens to me is if I swallow something too quickly, and it goes down in too-big chunks. If this is what you mean, the only thing that occurs to me is the analogy with the feeling you get when something is stuck in your eye (between eyeball and eyelid, that is) and then it is removed: it still feels, for a while, that something is still there. In that case, what happens is that the surface of the eyeball is damaged slightly where the object was, and the same sensation of discomfort continues to be sent to the brain for some time after the object is removed. Presumably if you send something too big down the throat, it irritates the throat and then perhaps the same thing can happen. Now why the nervous system cannot distinguish in these cases between the presence of both a damaging object and the damage it causes, on the one hand, and just the damage itself, on the other, is something I don't know. Perhaps the sensory nerves are just not too discriminating in these areas of the body. There are other (more fun) tricks you can play on your nerves: put your hand covered with a rubber glove into cold water and you'll swear your hand is getting wet. Two fingers touched to the skin in certain places of the body (back) will feel like just one finger if close enough, whereas in other places (hand) with the same separation between fingers you'll feel both (eyes closed for this experiment, of course).

Christopher Grayce



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