Vocal cord dysfunction is the uncontrolled closing of the vocal cords
when you breathe in. The symptoms can seem to be the same as those of
asthma and may occur alone or along with asthma. If
you have asthma and vocal cord dysfunction, it may be difficult for you to tell
the difference between symptoms of the two conditions.
Sometimes vocal cord dysfunction happens quickly and may require a
trip to the emergency room. The condition occurs in both men and women but may
be more common in women who are high achievers.
The following factors may help your health professional evaluate
vocal cord dysfunction, especially in people who do not have asthma. The
Usually is young and female.
abrupt attack but recovers quickly.
May be able to speak during an
attack, but often has a hoarse voice.
May improve when he or she
pants or sings.
Has more problem breathing in than
May have a dry cough.
Usually has normal results
on lung function tests, such as
May not respond to standard
The attacks usually do not occur at night. Also, the harsh,
high-pitched sound of air coming into a tight airway (stridor) may be heard at
Some forms of vocal cord dysfunction occur in people who do not have
asthma and/or GERD. In these people, vocal cord dysfunction may be associated
post-traumatic stress disorder, and a history of being
An acute attack may be treated with CPAP, breathing heliox (a mixture of helium and oxygen), or an anti-anxiety medicine. Long-term treatments include psychotherapy and speech
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