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"Could a problem with his epiglottis be causing my father's breathing trouble?"
My dad wakes up during the night a lot choking (I think on his own spit/saliva). He says its just from his asthma, but I think he has something wrong with his epiglottis. Could I be right? Could something make his epiglottis not function properly?
Asthma can definitely cause episodes of choking and cough in the middle of the night. In fact, night time symptoms from asthma are one of the main signs that control of the asthma is not very good. If your father has asthma and he is having these symptoms regularly, he needs to go see his primary care doctor to determine whether or not his asthma needs to be worked on. There are other causes of choking and sleep disturbance in the middle of the night that his doctor will also consider. For example, sleep apnea is very common in middle aged and older adults, especially those who are overweight. This results in periodic collapse of the upper airway, which causes choking, poor sleep, and feeling fatigued during the day. Sleep apnea can be diagnosed with a sleep study, which is a special test that can be set up by his primary care doctor. Sometimes, shortness of breath or coughing in the middle of the night can also be a sign of a problem with the heart, especially if there is swelling of the legs, chest pain, or fatigue with exercise. This is also something that his doctor will be able to asses.
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