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Choking On Saliva Superstition & Modern/Scientific Explanation 

Saliva plays a key role in the human body. Not only does it lubricate the mouth and throat but breaks down food making it easy to swallow it as well.

Throughout the day, the average person swallows the saliva tens if not hundreds of times.

Most often, it goes down without any problems. Then, there are those times the bodily discharge accumulates in your throat making breathing a challenge.

While this is a purely biological process, many cultures in the world believe there’s more to choking on saliva than meets the eye.

When it happens to you, something is taking place in the spiritual.

The interesting thing is that this superstition is different in different parts of the world.

Here is a conservative list and how they are interpreted.

1. Someone Is Talking About You

In many African (especially Kenyan) tribes, choking on saliva means that someone is talking about you at that very moment.

That they just mentioned your name at the exact time you are struggling to get saliva out.

Another version of this myth is that you choke when someone merely thinks about you.

In some areas, the remedy is to name names until the choking stops.

The second you mention the right person, you will be okay.

This can be anyone – family members, friends, colleagues, schoolmates, etc.

Sometimes you say tens of names before you get some relief.

Other times, the episode goes away after mentioning just a few of them.

2. Spiritual Cleansing

Secondly, choking on saliva is also believed to denote spiritual cleansing.

The act essentially clears the throat of saliva thus symbolizing the removal of blockages and bad energy.

It may mean the removal of old beliefs and patterns that no longer serve you.

After the episode, you should feel a sense of spiritual renewal and a greater connection to divinity.

Allow yourself to experience new growth and expansion.

Take advantage of the time to explore yourself deeply and heal from any negative thing.

3. A Sign To Slow Down

Sometimes life becomes too fast that you barely sit down to appreciate what you have and basically reflect on what’s happening in your life.

If you are going through this and choke on your saliva while at it, the universe might be trying to tell you to take a beat or slow down. 

At least some people believe this theory.

Perhaps you are trying too hard or you are moving way too fast.

 It could also mean that you are bottling up feelings that are bothering you.

You need to relax, let things unfold naturally, slow down, and share your heart with people that will help you feel better.

4. A Reminder That You Are A Mortal

Here’s another superstition tied to choking on saliva.

Some people believe that the natural process serves as a reminder of your mortality.

When you struggle to clear your throat, the universe may be gently letting you know how fragile life is and that your days on Earth are numbered.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are a positive person, this may be a sign that you need to enjoy your life and live in the present.

Additionally, it helps you focus on your physical, mental, and emotional health much better.

5. A Chance To Trust God

Christians have their own beliefs about choking on saliva as well.

While not all of them believe in the superstitious, some claim that it is a reminder to fully trust in the plan of God for their lives.

The experience may also trigger a prompt reflection on the use of words and actions to affect the lives of others.

Modern/Scientific Explanation Of Choking On Saliva

Now that we have listed some of the superstitions surrounding choking on saliva, is there a scientific explanation of the same?

Yes, indeed. Here are some of them:

I. Acid reflux

According to Healthline, choking can occur when stomach acid finds its way back to the throat and mouth thus increasing the production of saliva.

Additionally, the reflux can also cause irritation of the esophagus lining making it hard to swallow saliva.

This results in saliva collecting at the back of the mouth resulting in choking.

II. Talking a lot

People that talk excessively without taking breaks to swallow saliva are also prone to choking.

 The collected saliva can travel to the respiratory system causing choking.

To prevent the problem, speak slowly and swallow saliva occasionally.

III. Medical issues

There are a few conditions that can trigger choking on saliva as well. These include allergies, respiratory problems, and lesions/tumors in the throat.

Abnormal swallowing can also be linked to obstructive sleep apnea.

If you choke on saliva too frequently, you might want to take a trip to the hospital.

IV. Alcohol abuse

Heavy alcohol use can also cause choking on saliva.

 Ideally, when you drink a lot, you will experience a slow muscle response.

If you lose consciousness after drinking, saliva may build up at the mouth instead of flowing down the throat and may trigger choking.

V. Dentures

Poorly fitting dentures have also been caused to cause choking in some individuals.

Salivary glands typically produce more saliva when there’s a foreign object in the mouth such as dentures.

If you have dentures that are too tall or those that just aren’t fitted to your bite, occasional choking will occur.

VI. Improper positioning of the windpipe

The windpipe is the tube located next to the esophagus that carries oxygen to the lungs.

To prevent food from traveling down the windpipe, a small cartilage flap referred to as the epiglottis closes the pipe.

However, sometimes the cartilage doesn’t fully close the windpipe and may cause one to inhale food, water, and saliva.

As the person talks, they may choke especially if they have muscle or neurological conditions as well.


Humans rely on saliva to chew food, fight bacteria in the mouth, and lubricate the throat and mouth.

Unfortunately, sometimes the very thing that keeps the body functioning well can pose danger.

If you’ve ever choked on saliva, you know it can be a real nightmare.

What if there’s a superstitious meaning behind it?

Or do you believe it’s all just natural?

Well, that’s really up to you to decide.

Kenyalogue Contributor


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