Coexistent asthma and functional upper airway obstruction. Case reports and review of the literature

Chest. 1996 Nov;110(5):1358-61. doi: 10.1378/chest.110.5.1358.


Three asthmatic patients with dyspnea and episodes of apparent bronchospasm unresponsive to conventional therapy are described. During these episodes variable extrathoracic upper airway obstruction and airflow limitation typical of bronchial asthma were demonstrated by spirometry test results. In one patient, paradoxical vocal cord motion was identified by fiberoptic laryngoscopy. We believe these patients represent an unusual subgroup of asthmatic subjects who manifest laryngeal dysfunction. Recognition of this upper airway component to airflow limitation in some asthmatic patients may help physicians avoid potentially unnecessary therapy with systemic steroids and endotracheal intubation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Obstruction / complications*
  • Airway Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Bronchial Spasm / etiology
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Diseases / complications*
  • Laryngeal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Ventilation
  • Spirometry
  • Vital Capacity
  • Vocal Cords / physiopathology