Wheezing and vocal cord dysfunction mimicking asthma

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2001 Jan;7(1):8-13. doi: 10.1097/00063198-200101000-00002.


Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is a respiratory disorder characterized by paradoxical closure of the vocal cords during the respiratory cycle leading to obstructive airway symptoms. The presenting symptoms vary from stridor to wheezing. VCD may coexist with asthma or masquerade as asthma. Misdiagnosis of VCD as asthma leads to inappropriate use of systemic steroids with its adverse effects, frequent emergency department visits, hospitalization, and, rarely, intubation and tracheostomy. Attenuation of the inspiratory flow volume loop on spirometry is suggestive of VCD. Laryngoscopic demonstration of the paradoxical vocal cord movements during an acute attack is the gold standard for the diagnosis of VCD. Patient education, speech therapy, and psychologic counseling are the therapeutic tools for treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Prognosis
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Sounds / diagnosis*
  • Vocal Cords / physiopathology*