Irritant-Induced Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion Disorder: Diagnosis and Management

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015 Dec;153(6):996-1000. doi: 10.1177/0194599815600144. Epub 2015 Aug 25.


Objectives: To review our experience with the diagnosis and treatment of irritant-induced paradoxical vocal fold motion disorder (IPVFMD).

Study design: Retrospective chart review.

Setting: Tertiary academic referral center.

Subjects and methods: Thirty-four cases that met IPVFMD criteria and 76 cases of non-IPVFMD were selected from a database of patients with paradoxical vocal fold motion disorder-the diagnosis of which was made on the basis of flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy and augmented by an odor challenge. Clinical charts were reviewed to document history of environmental allergies, pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux, psychiatric disorder, fibromyalgia, tobacco use, alcohol use, dysphonia, cough, dysphagia, and treatment outcomes.

Results: There were no statistical differences between the IPVFMD and non-IPVFMD groups. Of the patients who were assigned and attended laryngeal control therapy, 13 (65%) reported improvement of symptoms. Symptom improvement increased to 100% in those patients who attended at least 2 laryngeal control therapy sessions.

Conclusions: IPVFMD should be considered in patients presenting with respiratory symptoms after irritant exposure. Sensitivity of diagnosis can be improved via a standardized approach consisting of a careful history and physical examination, including laryngoscopy in the presence of triggers. Laryngeal control therapy is a well-tolerated and effective method of managing IPVFMD.

Keywords: dyspnea; irritant induced; laryngeal control therapy; paradoxical vocal fold dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Databases as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritants*
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination
  • Vocal Cord Dysfunction / chemically induced*
  • Vocal Cord Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Vocal Cord Dysfunction / therapy


  • Irritants