Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement

What Is Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement?

Paradoxical vocal fold movement is when, instead of opening when you take a breath, the vocal folds close. This can lead to inspiratory stridor (a high pitched noise when you breathe in) and a feeling of shortness of breath. It can also be difficult to talk during these episodes.

What Is Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement Also Known As?

Paradoxical vocal fold movement is also referred to as vocal fold/cord dysfunction.

What Causes Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement?

Paradoxical vocal fold movement occurs most commonly in moments of stress, for example, just before a stressful competition or performance. It can last minutes or sometimes hours. It can cause some people to faint because they feel like they cannot get enough air in. While frightening, it is not life threatening. Most importantly, it is an involuntary behavior.

How Is Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement Diagnosed?

Often a physician can diagnose paradoxical vocal fold movement by listening to your history. Your doctor may have you run around the clinic or on a treadmill to induce the symptoms. Then he or she may perform a laryngoscopy to see your vocal folds moving.

How Is Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement Treated?

A speech-language pathologist can help you develop throat relaxation and breathing techniques to help prevent paradoxical vocal fold movement from occurring or stop the sensation should it occur.