Vocal Cord Spasm

What Is Vocal Cord Spasm?

Vocal cord spasm is a very scary condition that occurs when the larynx is very irritated. The vocal cords are designed to protect the lungs from irritants so if they become very inflamed they can close, which can lead to a sensation of not being able to get air in the lungs. Sometimes no air is able to get in. This condition can last for a few seconds or up to two minutes. Simple maneuvers like breathing through a straw or slow nasal breathing may relax the spasm and the vocal cords will open.

Treating the spasm effectively usually involves treating any infection, control of inflammation, treatment of allergies, appropriate hydration and humidification, and occasionally medications to reduce nerve irritability. If the underlying inflammation is treated, this condition is usually temporary. Reflux can cause spasm as well, often in the middle of the night, so if reflux is present it is important to treat it appropriately.