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Having been on both ends of this situation, I feel as if I can speak with some authority.

One day while covering the ER, an EMT from the Fire Station came in because he "had a fish bone stuck in my throat!" This is not something that is covered in medical school, and a new situation for me as a physician. I took X-Rays of his neck to see if we could visualize a foreign object, but the X-Rays showed nothing. He insisted that while eating fish, a bone had become lodged in his throat. After some fast thinking, I numbed his throat with Xylocaine Spray to block his gag reflex, laid him on his back, took a laryngysccope and looked down at his esophagus and vocal cords. There is was a small 1-2" fish bone, I quickly asked for some long forceps and removed the offending object. He felt fine and was discharged back to work.

Ironically, a couple of months later, I was having lunch in the Doctor's Dining Room, fish of course, and the same thing happened to me. After trying to push it into my stomach with several bites of bread with no relief, I quietly went to the restroom. There i tried to force myself to vomit with no success. So I walked down to the ER, and told the Attending Physician what had happened. He too had never encountered this before, so I explained what I had done with the EMT, he repeated the procedure and the fish bone was removed, again.

When an object like a fishbone or a potato chip goes down the esophagus the wrong way, it can become lodged or it can scratch the lining of the mucosa and make it feel as if there is a foreign object when there is not. If a person has an object lodged in their throat, make sure they can talk and breathe, if they cannot, the Heimleich Maneuver is indicated. If they are in no distress they should see an ENT physician, or go to the nearest ER where the doctor can use a scope to visualize the area and remove any foreign object. If it is just a scratch it will heal in a few days.

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Q: What to do if you feel like something is stuck in your throat but there is nothing?
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