Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD)
WHAT IS VOCAL CORD DYSFUNCTION (VCD)?
Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD) is a non-allergic reaction to a trigger resulting in the vocal cords not opening as they should. Also called Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion Disorder, the vocal cords close when attempting to inhale and exhale.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms include difficultly getting air into or out of the lungs, tightness in the throat or chest, frequent coughing or throat clearing, a feeling of choking or suffocation, gasping or wheezing and a hoarse voice. VCD can be triggered by post-nasal drip, an upper respiratory infection, exercise, acid reflux, tobacco smoke, strong odors or fumes or strong emotion or stress.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
VCD is often confused with Asthma as the symptoms are similar. However, Asthma symptoms are relieved by using a bronchodilator, and VCD is not. Your Gateway Asthma & Allergy Relief doctor may have you take a lung function test. You will be asked to blow into a spirometer that measures the total amount of air in and out of your lungs. The test may be performed after exercising or after inhaling a medication to try to trigger a response. Unfortunately, if your symptoms do not present at the time you take the test, your results will not confirm that you have VCD. Laryngoscopy is a procedure used to determine if there is a structural problem with your vocal cords. A small flexible tube with a camera (laryngoscope) is gently guided through your nose to the back of your throat. You are awake during the procedure and asked to talk so the vocal cords can be viewed in action. This procedure can identify a physical reason why your vocal cords are closing but, like the lung function test, cannot confirm VCD. Diagnosis may be made by the process of elimination.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
VCD cannot be treated with medications. Treatment is centered on understanding and avoiding your triggers. You can also learn relaxation techniques to help control your vocal cords when you feel the symptoms begin. Your Gateway Asthma & Allergy Relief doctor will provide you with the information you need to take control of your VCD.