Vocal Cord Dysfunction

Vocal Cord Dysfunction, or Paridoxical Vocal Fold Motion, is the term used to describe a pattern of vocal fold adduction during inhalation or exhalation that is abnormal. Normally your vocal folds are open in a "V" shape when you breathe. If the vocal folds are approximating when you are trying to breathe, the space between them gets smaller and the pathway to your lungs narrows or is completely occluded by the closed vocal folds.  VCD is often misdiagnosed as asthma, and when the patient has no success in treating the shortness of breath with asthma medications, VCD is suspected. Shortness of breath will occur in episodes either induced by exercise (most common), certain components or smells in the air, or for no reason at all. These episodes are often frightening because the individual cannot take a normal breath. There is no known cause for VCD. It is most common in Type-A personalities, athletes, and adolescents. Treatment usually requires no medication, and is often resolved in just a few sessions with behavioral breathing techniques.

Breathing techniques are taught until the patient is able to produce them completely independently and can use them effortlessly under the extreme pressure of a breathing attack. Practice is important to maintain the body's ability to remember and revert back to these rescue techniques.


Sources: Clinical Voice Pathology: Theory and Management 4th Edition Stemple, Glaze & Klaben


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