How to assess gag reflex?

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How do you usually assess if the gag reflex is present, say if the pt has returned to the floor post-procedure? Do you actually stick a tongue blade to the back of the throat?

Daytonite, BSN, RN

1 Article; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt.

A gag reflex can be elicited by mere light touching of the posterior wall of the oropharynx with a tongue blade. The patient should have immediate elevation of the palate, the muscles of the pharynx should constrict, and the patient should begin making gagging sounds indicating a normal gag reflex. If none of this happens the gag reflex has not returned.


97 Posts

Specializes in Psychiatric NP.

If you really don't want to stick something in their mouth, you can first make sure that they can answer your questions without slurred speech. Then you can give them a tiny sip of water. I emphasize TINY sip and it must be WATER. I would take the slightest cough to indicate that don't have their complete reflex back yet.

However, the textbook version is with a tongue blade.

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