Link #148: You Can Stop Your Gag Reflex By Making A Fist!

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Link #148: You Can Stop Your Gag Reflex By Making A Fist!

Fist
Image credit: RiverRatt3/CC BY-SA 2.0

The best tool that the humans ever used was their own hands. In our last post, we described how even advanced technology couldn’t beat the agility and dexterity of the human hand. Our article was about three astronauts who snagged an orbiting satellite with their hands after they couldn’t do it with the equipment that was provided to them.

While the dexterity of the human hands makes them very special, they have some unknown qualities that you may not be aware of as well. For instance, did you know that you can actually use your hands to stop your gag reflex? How? Read on and learn on.

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How Can You Use Your Hands To Control Gag Reflex?

gagging
Image credit: THAT CREW/Creative Commons

The medical name for gag reflex is pharyngeal reflex. Gag reflex can occur in two situations. The first, and more common, is physiological wherein you retch when a foreign object touches the soft palate at the back of your throat or the back part of your tongue.

The other is psychological where you get a gag reflex when you see something that grosses you out. Some good examples of things that can initiate psychological gag reflex include vomit, blood, gore, and decaying filth.

There’s a method that dentists use to help patients that have a particularly severe case of gag reflex. These types of patients can be difficult for a dentist to treat because they start gagging every time the dentist is trying to fix something inside their mouths.

In order to prevent their gag reflex, dentists ask such patients to make a fist with their hand. The fist must be made in such a manner that the left thumb is gripped tightly against the palm by the other fingers.

What Other Things You Can Do To Control Your Gag Reflex?

Hegu Point
Hegu Point. Image Credit: Mk2010/CC BY-SA 3.0

While making a fist with your thumb inside is the most common method used for controlling gag reflex, there’re other methods that you can use too. One of these is to press a point known as Neiguan point at the base of your left palm with your right thumb.

Another method is to press the point between your left thumb and left forefinger with your right hand. This point is known as the Hegu point. To make this point work, you’ll need to apply pressure and gently increase it.

Finally, if the hand methods don’t work for you, you can up the ante by applying pressure to the point between your lower lip and chin. The concave part at this location has a point which is known as the Chengjiang point.

Why Do You Get Gag Reflex?

Gag reflex is basically an involuntary contraction of the muscles at the back of your throat. The purpose of gag reflex is twofold. The first of these is that gag reflex prevents you from choking.

It is designed to prevent foreign objects from entering your throat. The second purpose is to push any foreign objects inside your throat outwards, in case they manage to enter the throat.


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Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharyngeal_reflex
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18832272
http://adajournal.com/content/139/10/1365.short
http://lifehacker.com/5858128/shut-off-your-gag-reflex-by-squeezing-your-left-thumb

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