Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD)

Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement, Irritable Larynx Syndrome

At the Duke Voice Care Center, you'll find experts in diagnosing and treating vocal cord dysfunction who also understand the difficulties of living with this disorder. Our Durham and Raleigh clinic locations offer customized treatments and therapy to help you find relief.

About Vocal Cord Dysfunction

Vocal cord dysfunction, also known as "paradoxical vocal fold movement" is part of "irritable larynx syndrome," an upper airway disorder with a range of symptoms, all related to excess irritation of the delicate voice box. During a VCD attack, your vocal cords close involuntarily when they should be open as you inhale, and you may feel as if you are choking or suffocating. Sometimes, sounds may come from your throat when you have trouble inhaling. You may also have a chronic cough. Some people with irritable larynx syndrome don't have difficulty breathing but only have a chronic cough, which can be debilitating in its own right.

Diagnosing and Treating VCD

VCD is frequently misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Often, it's mistaken for asthma. Our voice specialists will use the latest diagnostic tests to identify whether you have vocal cord dysfunction. Our specially trained speech pathologists can help you understand the common triggers for VCD attacks and teach you exercises to help your throat relax, keep your vocal cords open when you inhale, and ease your symptoms.

If you have asthma as well, we coordinate your care with lung specialists at Duke Health who can help you manage your condition.

Why Choose Duke for VCD Care?

When you come to the Duke Voice Care Center, you benefit from being treated at one of the few comprehensive voice centers in the Southeast.

  • Your team will include laryngologists -- ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors with advanced training in voice and throat disorders -- and speech pathologists specially trained to evaluate and treat patients with voice problems and laryngeal disorders. Your team has years of experience treating vocal cord dysfunction.
  • We work with specialists in allergy, asthma, and digestive disorders throughout Duke Health to ensure you receive coordinated care for all of the underlying causes of your vocal cord dysfunction.
  • If you are an athlete with VCD, our team can coordinate with your coach as appropriate, to provide education about your disorder and promote the use of best breathing strategies for you in your sport.
  • Our ongoing research ensures you receive the best care.




Our team will take a detailed history of your breathing symptoms to note the patterns that suggest vocal cord dysfunction and identify any triggers for these attacks. Your laryngologist will also evaluate whether any medical conditions, surgeries, or recent illnesses could have caused changes in your voice or breathing. We will perform a head and neck examination and a visual examination of your voice box. The following tests may also be necessary.

Ready for an appointment?
- call us at -