Vocal cord dysfunction: don't mistake it for asthma

Phys Sportsmed. 1998 May;26(5):63-85. doi: 10.3810/psm.1998.05.1013.


Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD), with its symptoms of stridor, air hunger, and chest or throat tightness, occurs primarily in active adolescents and young adults and may mimic exercise-induced asthma. Suspicions of VCD will be borne out by a mostly inspiratory stridor, abrupt onset and resolution of symptoms, an unpredictable symptom pattern, and the failure of usual asthma medications to resolve attacks. Laryngoscopy during acute symptoms is the definitive diagnostic tool. Panting can often stop an attack, and preventive treatment consists of patient education, speech therapy, and, when needed, psychological measures.