Several small studies have found that about 40 percent of individuals who have VCD also have asthma and that about 10 to 15 percent of individuals whose asthma does not respond to aggressive treatment (refractory asthma) actually have VCD.
Most people go through a series of other tests and often get other diagnoses, most commonly refractory (unresponsive) asthma, before they have a laryngoscopy and receive a definite diagnosis of VCD.
Although the physical conditions that cause VCD cannot be prevented, individuals can be educated not to panic and to use certain breathing techniques when they begin to feel symptoms of VCD.
VCD was first recognized in 1842, when it was thought that hysteria, a common designation at that time for several psychological conditions, brought about spasm of the muscles of the larynx.
Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is a disorder that occurs when the vocal cords move toward each other when a person breathes, narrowing the airway and causing wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Individuals cannot voluntarily produce symptoms of VCD, so they are usually exposed to an irritant or undergo an exercise stress test in order to bring on a VCD attack.
As a result, many individuals with VCD are treated with inhalers and steroids for asthma, which do not help control VCD and which have potentially harmful side effects.
If an individual does not respond adequately to speech therapy, psychotherapy is recommended, as in many people anxiety and stress are linked to VCD attacks.
VCD can mimic the symptoms of severe asthma, allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), spasm of the larynx (laryngospasm), or a foreign object lodged in the throat.
VCD is often a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that other possibilities are considered first, and when these are eliminated, VCD is considered.