Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD)

What is Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD)?

Vocal Cord Dysfunction results when the muscles of the voice box do not open correctly.  This can cause several different symptoms, including: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Throat tightness
  • Hoarse voice
  • Voice changes

Unfortunately, many of these symptoms can also occur in asthma, which can be confusing.  In addition, many patients with asthma also have VCD.   

  • As with asthma, breathing in lung irritants, exercising, viral infections, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) may trigger symptoms of VCD.
  • Unlike asthma, VCD causes more difficulty breathing in than breathing out. The reverse is true for symptoms of asthma.

A thorough history, along with proper evaluation and diagnosis, are essential to provide appropriate treatment.    Spirometry obtained in the office can also be helpful not only for diagnosis, but to differentiate from asthma. 

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