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Author Topic: Swallowing Your Tongue
Snafu
Deck the Malls


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I was just wondering how you kill yourself by swallowing you own tongue.

It's obviously no myth, but if you actually try to do it (I know, it's stupid)it seems impossible. The piece of flesh underneath stops it from happening.

...So like I said, I've just given it a go and I can't do it which makes me wonder how so many people can die this way, be they unconscious or not.

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lynnejanet
Happy Holly Days


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Why do you say that so many people die this way, and that it's not a myth? Do you have a cite?

I've actually never heard of anyone dying that way (which means nothing, in and of itself).

I think the piece of skin that attaches the base of the tongue to the floor of the mouth is called a frenulum.

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Snafu
Deck the Malls


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I've just found this:

"In fact, the whole base of your tongue is firmly anchored to the bottom of your mouth, so you could never swallow your tongue even if you tried!"

- http://kidshealth.org/kid/body/tongue_noSW.html

I'm 100% definate that I've heard of people swallowing their tongues. I can even remember seeing some hospital documentary where a piece of plastic equipment was attached to the tongue of a seriously injured person. It stuck out of their mouth like a dummy.

I think I might have been a bit off with the "...so many people" part of my post though.

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snopes
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quote:
"In fact, the whole base of your tongue is firmly anchored to the bottom of your mouth, so you could never swallow your tongue even if you tried!"
I think this means you can't literally swallow your tongue (i.e., down the esophagus and into your stomach), not that your tongue can't be "swallowed" into a postion from which it occludes your airway.

For example:

quote:
It is physically impossible to swallow your tongue. What could happen is that the tongue can fall backwards, closing the airway. The best way to fix this (in a victim without a suspected spine injury) is by using the head-tilt chin-lift. Place one hand on the forehead and the other under the tip of the jaw. Then tilt the head back with the one hand as you lift the chin with the other.
- snopes
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Sandman
Deck the Malls


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The idea of "swallowing your tongue" is actually based on the fact that in an unconscious person who is on their back, the tongue can relax back into the back of the throat and block the air passage. It's not actually swallowed.

And I'm curious....how many times have you tried this....?

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Snafu
Deck the Malls


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I tried it while I was watching Silence of the Lambs tonight.

During the film Hannibal convinces a bloke in the cell next to him to swallow his tongue and it kills him.

Does that mean we've just found us a nice juicy plot hole? As in, it'd be nearly impossible to commit suicide that way?

I've just tried laying down and letting the tongue fall back, it's totally not happening for me.

...I'm gonna stop with these experiments now, I can see bad things happening...

*Choke*

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chillas
Coventry Mall Carol


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Aye, it is possible in the way snopes has described.

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Cobra4J
Jingle Bell Hock


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I have heard of this many times- and I just have to ask- how often do people "swallow" their tongues and it causes their deaths? I have never heard of one genuine, documented case for this.
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beaver_slayer
Deck the Malls


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Well, actually, I'm not so sure if it's a myth.

http://www.wldcup.com/news/2001Apr/20010402_8030_hendry_fifa.html

Scotland captain Hendry facing inquiry over elbow clash
First Published: Apr 02, 2001

Scotland captain Colin Hendry is facing a ban that could end his international career after FIFA confirmed today that his elbow on San Marino substitute Nicola Albani is now under a disciplinary inquiry.

Albani was felled by an elbow from the defender who scored twice in the 4-0 win for Scotland in a 2002 World Cup qualifier last week only seconds after coming on to the field.

As the pair tussled at a free kick Hendry responded to Albani's shirt-pulling by swinging his arm behind him and catching the 18 year old student in the throat.

Albani was stretchered from the field after fears that he had swallowed his tongue and spent the night recovering in a Glasgow hospital. San Marino players were furious at Hendry but he was defended by coach Craig Brown following the incident which was not seen by the referee or mentioned in his report.

FIFA will base their inquest in video evidence of the incident and Hendry knows a precedent was set at the 1994 World Cup finals for his offence.

Italian veteran Mauro Tassotti was banned for 8 matches from internationals after his elbow on Luis Enrique at the World Cup finals.

San Marino did not make an official complaint and Brown said there was no intent to injure by the defender with Albani pulling his shirt four times n an untidy incident.

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gasman
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Hi ! First ever post !
Sandman is right. I assume 'swallowing your tongue' is used to mean upper airway obstruction caused by either the back of the tongue or the epiglottis falling onto the back of the throat and obstructing your breathing.
This is caused by unconsciousness, which causes relaxation of the muscles that normally hold your airway open.
Thus this can happen with head injury, drugs, a lot of alcohol etc . It can be fatal if severe and not corrected, and is basically a severe version of what happens when you snore.
Swallowing your tongue is a strange way to put it, but it's a somewhat complex idea, and that's a catchy phrase so I guess that's why it's used.

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Snafu:
It's obviously no myth, but if you actually try to do it (I know, it's stupid)it seems impossible. ...

Personally I'm wary of "trying to do something" that would probably kill me if I succeeded...
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Watch Your Kidneys
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My mom told me once about a friend of hers that almost swallowed her own tongue while she was in the dentist chair with her mouth numbed up. Come to think about it, my mom also told me the one about the Banana Rat being mistaken for a Chihuahua...maybe she's not such a good source. [Wink]
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Tantei Kijo
The First USA Noel


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I figured this out on my own a while back. I have a long tongue, but couldn't "swallow" it (ie. stick the front of it in my throat enough to choke myself). I finally figured that you slide it backwards rather than turning it backwards.

It hurts if you do it too much though. [fish]

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