Practical management: vocal cord dysfunction in athletes

Clin J Sport Med. 2006 Jul;16(4):357-60. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200607000-00014.


Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is characterized by paradoxical adduction of the vocal folds during inhalation, and occasionally upon exhalation, resulting in extrathoracic airflow obstruction. Sports medicine professionals must have a high index of suspicion for VCD when acute respiratory symptoms occur so that prompt evaluation and use of appropriate specialists results in an accurate and timely diagnosis. Many factors have been implicated in the pathophysiology of VCD, including laryngeal irritants, psychogenic and neurogenic causes. The diagnosis and management of VCD involves a variety of specialties including pulmonology, otolaryngology, speech-language pathology, allergy and immunology, and psychologic management as appropriate. The mainstay of treatment remains behavioral management guided by a medical speech-language pathologist, as well as pharmacologic management for VCD triggers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Asthma, Exercise-Induced / diagnosis
  • Asthma, Exercise-Induced / therapy*
  • Bronchial Spasm / etiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exhalation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inhalation / physiology
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology
  • Speech-Language Pathology / methods
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Sports Medicine / methods*
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / diagnosis
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / therapy*
  • Vocal Cords / physiopathology*