Vocal cord dysfunction in bronchial asthma. A review article

J Asthma. 2015 May;52(4):327-35. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2014.982288. Epub 2014 Nov 20.


Introduction: Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is a condition in which the larynx exhibits paradoxical vocal cord adduction during inspiration, resulting in extra-thoracic variable airway obstruction. It has been described as a mimic of asthma, and hence, many patients with VCD are diagnosed as difficult-to-treat asthma and suffer significant morbidity as such.

Methods: In completing this review we searched the literature using the database from MEDLINE, PubMed, and the Cochrane library using the medical terms "vocal cord/vocal cord dysfunction and asthma".

Results: During the last few decades, many publications have described many conditions that may cause or coexist with VCD. In addition, the association between asthma and VCD was recognized. In this narrative review we provide an overview of the current knowledge about VCD and, in particular its relationship to asthma. We also provide a pragmatic diagnostic algorithm and treatment options based on our collaborative multi-disciplinary management of patients attending a difficult to control asthma clinic.

Conclusion: Most VCD patients present with inadequately controlled asthma rather than the typical symptoms described in association with VCD. Careful diagnostic strategy as outlined in this review may be helpful in confirming the diagnosis.

Keywords: Diagnostics; exercise induced; pathophysiology; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Exercise
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Speech Therapy
  • Vocal Cord Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Vocal Cord Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Vocal Cord Dysfunction / therapy*