Waking Up With Choking Sensation

What Causes Waking Up Choking?

Waking up choking can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'serious' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose waking up choking, we could:
  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "waking up choking" as a symptom.  Here are two possibilities:
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Congestive Heart Failure

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
pale fingernails
occasional unexplained nausea
edema of the abdomen
blue/bluish fingernails
being short of breath when inactive
tossing and turning at night
constant fatigue
frequent abdominal discomfort
sleep apnea
edema of the feet
loss of appetite
shortness of breath when at rest
... and more than 10 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of waking up choking:
Cause Probability Status
Sleep Apnea 95% Confirm
Congestive Heart Failure 70% Possible
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate sleeping-related problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you ever wake up during the night gasping for air, or with a choking sensation?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Occasionally - less than once per month
→ Often - at least once per month
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate waking up with choking sensation, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Congestive Heart Failure

Fluid may accumulate in the lungs, causing shortness of breath particularly during exercise and when lying flat.  In some instances, patients are awakened at night, gasping for air.