A yawning husband almost died after his mouth got stuck wide open.

Dead tired Ben Shire was making a cup of tea to help keep him awake when a massive yawn took hold and he strained his jaw so much he dislocated it.

The horrified store worker, 34, of Horsham, collapsed in his kitchen unable to breathe or swallow.

His frantic wife dialled 999 as he lay on the floor choking on his saliva and watching his life pass before his eyes.

Paramedics rushed him to hospital with his jaw still locked open where medics brought him back from the brink of death using a suction device.

Doctors battled for four hours with Ben, a father-of-three, to close his gaping mouth.

He said the incident was no laughing matter and he could easily have choked to death.

He told The Argus: "We can laugh about it now, but it wasn't funny at the time.

"I couldn't breathe because I was choking - it felt like two fingers down my throat.

"The more I panicked, the more I struggled for breath."

His wife Sam, a hotel cleaner, added: "I was really panicking and didn't know what to do."

A spokesman for East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, where doctors re-set Ben's jaw, praised the quick-thinking actions of the ambulance crew.

Cases of people's jaws locking mid-yawn are very rare.

Doctors advise people who do experience the problem to bend forward or lie on their side in the recovery position to let gravity ease the pressure.

People with jaws locked open can feel like they are choking because of the build-up of saliva in their mouths.

To push a locked-open jaw back into place dentists push the lower jaw downwards and back by pushing on the lower back teeth.

The condition known as lockjaw - where the jaw sets shut - is more commonly associated with the early stages of tetanus.

This is followed by stiffness in the neck, problems swallowing, rigid abdominal muscles, spasms, sweating and fever.