Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD)
Duke voice disorder specialists use the latest diagnostic tests to identify vocal cord dysfunction, which occurs when the vocal cords do not open normally, which can affect your breathing. Our specially trained speech pathologists teach you exercises that help the throat relax, keep the vocal cords open when you inhale, and ease the symptoms related to your vocal cord dysfunction.
Comprehensive care for vocal cord dysfunction
Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD), also known as "paradoxical vocal fold movement" and "irritable larynx syndrome," is an upper airway disorder characterized by the involuntary closing of the vocal cords when they should be open. The closed vocal cords make it feel as thou you are having difficulty breathing. During a VCD attack, it's common to feel as if you are choking or suffocating, and for sounds to emanate from your throat when you inhale. A chronic cough is often associated with vocal cord dysfunction. The coughing and difficulty breathing commonly leads to vocal cord dysfunction being confused with asthma, which can lead to misdiagnosis and a delay in treatment.
Our laryngologists and speech therapists look into your throat with a tiny camera to observe your breathing patterns and make sure there is no structural abnormality. If you have asthma as well, we coordinate your care with lung specialists at Duke who can help you manage your condition. We help you understand the common triggers for vocal cord dysfunction and teach you breathing exercises to help minimize your vocal cord dysfunction attacks.
Choose Duke for your treatment of vocal cord dysfunction because we offer:
- Voice disorder specialists. We are one of the few voice centers in the Southeast, with a comprehensive team of voice experts. Your team includes ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physicians who are laryngologists, a specialty that requires advanced training in voice and throat disorders.
- Highly specialized speech pathologists. Our speech pathologists undergo specialized training to evaluate and treat patients with voice problems including vocal cord dysfunction.
- Coordinated care. We work with specialists in allergy, lung disease, and digestive disorders throughout Duke to ensure you receive comprehensive and coordinated care for treatment of all the underlying causes of vocal cord dysfunction. Since it is often misdiagnosed, it is important to seek care from a team that has experience in diagnosing and treating vocal cord dysfunction.
- Better treatment decisions. Our ongoing research ensures you receive the best care.
VOCAL CORD DYSFUNCTION
Exercise designed to relieve vocal cord dysfunction attacks. You will learn relaxed throat breathing (also called pursed lip breathing) and lower abdominal breathing to avoid episodes of difficulty breathing. These breathing techniques keep the upper airway and voice box relaxed and open for easy breathing.
Your speech pathologist will teach you how to use good vocal hygiene to help the throat recover from the constant irritation caused by chronic cough. You will also learn breathing strategies that will help you break the cycle of chronic cough.
If you experience voice strain, voice therapy will help Improve your speaking voice technique, pacing, and vocal hygiene. You work with a speech pathologist who guides you through vocal exercises to improve breathing, reduce throat strain, find your optimal pitch and volume for strong, healthy speaking. We work with you to get your voice back and to meet your daily voice needs. Voice therapy can be customized for specific needs.
VOCAL CORD DYSFUNCTION
Our team will take a detailed history of your breathing symptoms to note the patterns and suggest vocal cord dysfunction, and attack triggers. Your laryngologist will also valuate the role of any of your medical conditions that can cause voice changes or changes in your breathing, such as surgeries and recent illness. A head and neck examination is performed. A visual examination of the voice box is also completed.
This visual exam evaluates your vocal cords vibrate while you make sounds and breathe. A tiny camera attached to a small tube called an endoscope is inserted through your nose to the top of the throat. This camera uses a flashing strobe light to capture slow motion images of your vocal cords. Actual episodes of VCD are rarely seen on these exams, but your larynx will be evaluated to make sure that all the structures are normal.
We may refer you to a lung disease specialist who will evaluate you to make sure you do not have asthma, or treat your asthma if it is present.