Home True Liquid Candy Laryngospasm Warning

Liquid Candy Laryngospasm Warning

by Brett M. Christensen

Email warning claims that a child suffered laryngospasm after drinking a form of liquid candy that was intended to be sprayed into the mouth.

True, but message could be misleading.

Subject: FW: Warning about children’s candy

This one’s on the up and up.

We had a very scary incident with Kylin Saturday night all because of some candy. It’s a liquid that’s sour and you just spray it into your mouth. I was right by Kylin and her friend and heard them say that it would be fun to see what it would taste like if the drank some instead of just sprayed it]. (you know, typical kid fun stuff, I thought nothing of it) So Kylin said she’d try it and took the lid off (it’s just like a pump style hair spray top) and she took one sip. I turned around to ask if she was ok cause I thought she was making noises like when water or something just doesn’t go down right and realized that she was just gasping over and over again for air and wasn’t actually breathing. She was having a laryngospasm!

The definition of what happened is this –
The sudden acute spasm of the vocal cords (and epiglottis) that can result in occlusion of the airway and death.

This medical definition above is from http://cancerweb.ncl.ac.uk/cgi-bin/omd?action=Home&query=

Anyway, Kylin’s airways did close and she couldn’t breath, so we had to call 911. She threw up before the ambulance got here and she did start being able to breath after that but still had difficulties for a little bit. The paramedics recommended we take her to the urgent care unit here and get her checked out just to be sure cause she continued to have weird spasms that were causing her throat to make a weird noise for about 2 hours after that. The doctor there is who told me what actually happened. She is ok now, thank God, but it was so super scary!!

Kylin and Daegen both have had sour spray candy before (not sure if they’ve had this kind though, I’ve seen a few different kinds) and this has never happened but it did this time.

I’m attaching a picture of the spray (like I said, there’s lots of different variations out there) and am hoping that it will get forwarded and passed around so that hopefully no child or parent has to ever go through this again.

We are just so lucky that Kylin did start breathing again and is ok now.

I have been in contact with a lady from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and she came to take a look at it this morning and she took some pictures of it and then was on her way to the convenience store to buy some so they could further investigate in. I have also contacted Global news and they may do a story about it, I’m waiting to hear back from them while they are researching it a bit.

Here is the spray that caused this. It says “sour” at the top and then “Big Mouth candy spray” and it does come in different flavors, this one being sour green apple.

Please pass this on to as many people as you can!!!


sour candy stick

Detailed Analysis:
I began receiving enquiries about this email forward in late May 2006. The message is a warning from a mother and relates the experience of a child who suffered a laryngospasm after swallowing a form of liquid candy. As the message states, a laryngospasm is a sudden spasm of the vocal cords that can seriously interfere with breathing. According to a GPnotebook entry:

Laryngospasm describes a firm muscular closure of the laryngeal cords. Airflow to the lungs is impeded.

Common causes include allergic reactions such as angioneurotic oedema, foreign bodies, and infection e.g. epiglotitis.

Laryngospasm is the body’s way of preventing water or other substances from entering the windpipe and, subsequently, the lungs. An article discussing laryngospasm on voicedoctor.net notes:

As soon as your voice box or the area of the windpipe below the voicebox detect the entry of water or other substance, the vocal folds spasm shut. Evolutionarily speaking, this works very well to keep water out of the lungs – if you start to drown or a bug flies down your throat while you were starting to inhale, the vocal cords very immediately and very effectively close.

That closure is a benefit to protect the airway, but it makes “breathing in”, very difficult. It can happen even when only the sensation is present of something other than air entering the windpipe.

Kylin’s story appears to be true and the details in the message seem consistent with descriptions of laryngospasm.. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed receiving a report about such an incident and has issued the following advisory:


Ottawa – June 9, 2006 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is advising consumers that sour spray candy should be consumed, as intended, by spraying the product on the tongue and not by drinking the product.

Sour spray candy is typically sold in spray top plastic bottles that contain a concentrated liquid. There are several types of sour spray candy products in the marketplace. Although an adverse health consequence is unlikely, as with all children’s novelty products, parents and caregivers are cautioned to familiarize themselves with the product in advance, noting any age restrictions and conditions of use indicated on the label.

The CFIA has received a report of a child who experienced throat spasms after drinking sour spray candy directly from the container.

While sour spray candy is safe for children to consume as intended, children should be cautioned against opening the container or trying to drink the product.

The CFIA investigates consumer complaints on a ongoing basis and works with Health Canada to assess food safety issues.

For more information, please contact:

CFIA Media Relations
(613) 228-6682”

Seeing your child suffer a laryngospasm would certainly be a frightening experience for any parent. After such an experience, it would be natural for the mother to warn other parents about what she perceived as a potentially dangerous substance. However, while this warning appears to be a true account of what happened and be well intentioned, it may also be misleading. There is little doubt that a candy spray could potentially induce laryngospasm when used in the way described in the message. However, it is important to keep in mind that consuming a wide range of other foods and liquids, as well as other factors such as the effects of anaesthesia and allergic reactions, can potentially induce the condition. In fact, even the small amount of sugary saliva generated when chewing candy has been known to cause laryngospasm. Thus, it would be wrong for parents to conclude from the warning that restricting the consumption of spray candies will negate the risk of laryngospasm. As noted, virtually any liquid can potentially cause a laryngospasm. Any substance that “goes down the wrong way” can cause the vocal cords to suddenly slam shut in order to prevent liquid from entering the lungs.

An awareness of the causes and effects of a laryngospasm is useful knowledge for any parent. Knowing what was occurring could help parents more effectively deal with such a situation. Certainly, parents should ensure that children consume candy or other products as the manufacture intended. However, although the message is valid, recipients should keep in mind that sour candy will not always cause a laryngospasm if sipped instead of sprayed and that many other substances are capable of causing the condition.

Last updated: 15th June 2006
First published: 9th June 2006
By Brett M. Christensen
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Information for patients with laryngospasm
Choking on the “Juice” of Candy

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