Intermittent shortness of breath
Around 300,000 people in Germany suffer from “Vocal Cord Dysfunction” (VCD). VCD is a functional, paradoxical reflex of – more or less – total closure of the vocal folds while the larynx should be wide open. The vocal cords as organic parts of the larynx are totally normal and thus VCD is a misnomer. The newer terminology coins this condition inducible laryngeal obstruction (ILO). The symptoms are mostly dramatic and can be described as very sudden airway obstruction ‚as if somebody is choking the patient’. Panic and life threatening feeling surprises the patients, which can sometimes happen in the middle of the night during sleep.
Diagnostics is mostly by exclusion of other factors and should rule out reflux and recurrent nerve paralysis. Diagnostics may include provocation testing under flexible transnasal laryngoscopy in the voice clinic. Therapeutic recommendations comprise breathing exercises and psycological re-assurance that VCD will not lead to a longlasting breathing problem with loss of oxygen saturation in the blood.