Vocal cord dysfunction: the importance of psychologic factors and provocation challenge testing

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1987 May;79(5):726-33. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(87)90203-x.


We present three case reports involving patients with vocal cord dysfunction. The onset of symptoms in one case was coincident with a generalized cutaneous reaction to penicillin with laryngeal involvement. The other cases had been misdiagnosed as food allergy and chemical sensitivity. We describe the psychologic factors in these cases in terms of the primary and secondary gain operative in the somatoform disorder of conversion reaction and emphasize the importance of belief and learned sensitivity in the induction of symptoms. The necessity of considering psychologic factors and the use of blinded, controlled, provocation challenges to evaluate subjective symptomatology is underscored. This study emphasizes the heterogenicity of clinical presentations involving vocal cord dysfunction and illustrates the value of fiberoptic-assisted examination of laryngeal function in conjunction with provocation challenge testing in establishing causal relationships for specific clinical symptoms.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Diseases / complications
  • Laryngeal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Laryngeal Diseases / psychology
  • Vocal Cords* / physiopathology