If you are having trouble breathing, there could be a number of issues at play. While asthma is a common cause of breathing difficulty, similar symptoms arise from a condition known as Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD).
WHAT IS VOCAL CORD DYSFUNCTION?
As the name suggests, vocal cord dysfunction is a condition that causes the body's vocal cords to function improperly. It is also known as paradoxical vocal cord movement (PVFM), or laryngeal dysfunction.
Like asthma, vocal cord dysfunction is often triggered by strenuous exercise, stress, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease (LRD), infections, exposure to allergens and other irritants, and other factors. In addition, VCD often presents similar symptoms to asthma, such as coughing, wheezing, and tightness of the throat. However, while VCD has triggers and symptoms that are very similar to asthma, it is not an immune system reaction.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
There are certain signs that indicate a patient may be suffering from VCD instead of asthma. These include:
- More difficulty inhaling than exhaling when there is a flare-up of symptoms
- Ineffectiveness of asthma medications
- Results from pulmonary function tests or other asthma tests that return normal
Vocal cord dysfunction is generally treated by means of speech therapy and special breathing exercises. Since the treatment for vocal cord dysfunction is very different from the treatment for asthma, and asthma medications are ineffective in controlling symptoms of VCD, it is important for a trained medical professional to make an accurate diagnosis of the condition.
If you are suffering from wheezing, difficulty inhaling, a hoarse or tight throat, or other asthma-like symptoms, you may be coping with vocal cord dysfunction. The trained allergists and medical professionals at Allergy and Asthma Care of Waco can determine whether you have VCD, and provide you with the appropriate treatment options for this condition.