Vocal Cord Dysfunction
Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD) is a breathing problem that is often mis-diagnosed as asthma. During normal breathing our vocal cords remain open, but people with VCD experience a tightening or spasm of the voice muscles, which causes the vocal cords to close. Although milder episodes do not last long, it is a frightening experience. Patients experiencing more severe episodes often have to go to a hospital emergency room.
Although VCD can occur at any age, one sub-type, Exercise Induced Vocal Cord Dysfunction (EIVCD), is typically diagnosed in adolescence or early adulthood. In these cases, the VCD attacks only occur during intense physical exercise.
Once VCD or EIVCD has been diagnosed, therapy with a Speech-Language Pathologist experienced in this area is usually recommended. Although VCD presents as a breathing problem, and patients typically do not have voice problems, the same muscles and structures are involved. For this reason, we use some of the same techniques that we use with clients who have voice disorders caused by excess muscle tension.
For more information about VCD and EIVCD read an overview.