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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Asthma AND Vocal Chord Dysfunction?

(Shutterstock image)

So, we were back at Asthma Doc's office AGAIN. Daughter Kitty is still having a tough time with her asthma (what else is new?)

This time, we were there for a Spirometry test.   It's a lung function test that can tell how well your lungs are doing. It measures how MUCH air you breathe in and breathe out, and how FAST you breathe out.

They can use the test to diagnose asthma and COPD.   

I was surprised to see that Kitty's graph looked normal. Asthma Doc was a little surprised too. Smart man that he is, he wondered if there is something else that is causing Kitty to have problems breathing.

He asked if she feels it more in her lungs, or in her throat? I was surprised when Kitty said she felt it more in her throat. 

One of the things that can be confused with asthma is Vocal Chord Dysfunction. Vocal what??  AAAAI -  American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology explains it this way:

"Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD) occurs when the vocal cords (voice box) do not open correctly."
"In asthma, the airways (bronchial tubes) tighten, making breathing difficult. With VCD, the vocal cord muscles tighten, which also makes breathing difficult."
And if you are not already confused.....
"To add to the confusion, many people with asthma also have VCD."
Hm. Well, we KNOW Kitty has asthma. In our family, it's genetic because I have asthma, as does Kitty and both of her brothers. Kitty was hospitalized 4 times with pneumonia she was younger.  And she is on a daily controller medicine for her asthma.

 AAAAI lists the following symptoms for VCD:

Symptoms of VCD can include:
•    Difficulty breathing
•    Coughing
•    Wheezing
•    Throat tightness
•    Hoarse voice
•    Voice changes

You can watch a short video about VCD here. 

We first learned about VCD when Son #2 had a test to see if he had VCD. It's not a fun test - they stick a tube down your throat with a camera on the end. Then they watch your vocal chords open and close. Son #2 DIDN'T have VCD, but Asthma Doc thinks Kitty does.

You treat VCD with speech therapy. Jewish National explains it here.

Asthma Doc said he hasn't been able to find a speech therapist in our area that treats VCD. He knows that I have a knack for knowing resources and being able to find things.

Challenge accepted. 

If there is one thing we moms are good at, is taking care of our kids and getting the help they need.

Excuse me while I start my list of speech therapist for our county and start making phone calls.


  1. I had no idea it was so common. I looked up the test and they stick a tube up your nose!!!

    1. Yep, they do. My middle son was tested for it years ago....NOT FUN!!!

  2. At work someone posted a sign on the restroom door that said, "please don't spray perfume in here, several of us are allergic to it and get bad headaches." I usually just cough. That made me think of you.

    1.'s so annoying. It would be one thing if I get a headache - but asthma attacks are a LOT scarier!!