July 24, 2012

Laryngospasm in a Child

Washington Post published a story July 23, 2012 regarding a child who suffered from laryngospasm attack that was erroneously diagnosed as asthma.

Laryngospasm is when the true vocal cords (TVC) come together rather than apart when breathing. Normally, only when talking do the vocal cords come together (or adduct) and vibrate to create a voice. When breathing, the vocal cords separate (or abduct) to allow air to pass between the vocal cords and into the lungs. Watch video.

What the story portrayed is not uncommon and patients who suffer from laryngospasm may go for years without the correct diagnosis.

The voice therapy that was recommended is also appropriate to help him cope when an attack occurs.

However, that's also the point where I start to disagree with the article.

It is all fine and dandy to learn breathing coping strategies, but that only deals with WHEN an attack occurs. What about what causes an attack to happen in the first place? Would it not be better to prevent an attack from happening at all and thereby coping strategies don't even need to be initiated?

As such, I do feel it important to start an aggressive workup to evaluate all the known triggers that may initiate a laryngospasm attack. Such triggers include allergy, post-nasal drainage, and reflux.

As long as the trigger is not addressed, a patient can continue to suffer recurrent attacks.

Once the triggers are found and fixed... the laryngospasm attacks can be potentially "cured."

Watch the video below depicting larygnospasm as well as less severe forms of the same (vocal cord dysfunction or paradoxical vocal cords).

Long-ago asthma diagnosis didn’t explain boy’s difficulty breathing. Washington Post 7/23/12

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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