Before you learn about vocal cord dysfunction it in necessary to know what is the function of your vocal cord and how it works. Vocal cords are located in your throat, and above the wind pipe. It is due to vibration of vocal cord, voice is produced when you speak. Vibration takes place when you exhale. When you breathe, the vocal cords open and allow the air to enter the windpipe and into the lungs.
What is Vocal Cord Dysfunction?
In vocal cord dysfunction, the cords close while you breathe in or breathe out.This leaves very less place for the air to enter the wind pipe causing distress and symptoms mimicking Asthma. However, body gets enough oxygen supply from little space left in the wind pipe after abnormal closure of the vocal cord.
Experts have not fully understood the reason for dysfunctional vocal cords. Some relate it to stress, anxiety and as a psychiatric disorder. Other triggering factors for vocal cord dysfunction include:
- Upper respiratory tract infection.
- Air pollution.
- Post nasal drip.
- Singing and laughing loudly.
- Cigarette smoke.
- Strong odors and perfumes.
- Exercise: this depends from person to person, what amount of exertion can cause vocal cord dysfunction.
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Stress and anxiety especially when a person is attending a social function.
Symptoms Of Vocal Cord Dysfunction
The symptoms of vocal cord dysfunction appear similar to those of asthma. The difference is that while in asthma the lower airway is involved; vocal cord dysfunction does not involve the lower airways to produce excess of mucus.
- Shortness of breath. Person finds difficulty in breathing in and breathing out.
- A tight feeling in chest.
- Tight feeling in throat.
- Person coughs frequently.
- Person clears his throat very frequently.
- Choking and feeling of suffocation.
- Hoarse voice.
- Wheezing sound when breathing which is called stridor.
Dysfunctional Vocal Cord Treatment
Vocal cord dysfunction generally improves with treatment. The key for treating this condition is a coordinate approach of physician, psychiatrist and a speech therapist.
- Speech therapy plays an important role in vocal cord dysfunction. Speech therapist teaches the patient relaxation techniques of vocal cord. He also teaches the breathing exercise. He also teaches techniques to eliminate throat clearing which is a common symptom of VCD.
- Psychotherapy: psychiatrist usually is involved because stress and anxiety act as a triggering factor in this condition. His counseling helps to deal with stress and anxiety. Most people find better results when they combine psychotherapy with speech therapy.
- Physician: his role is important in treating various conditions such as gastoresophageal reflux, allergic rhinitis, asthma etc.