When vocal cord dysfunction goes unrecognized as a component of asthma, or when the disorder is misdiagnosed as asthma, patients often end up receiving inappropriately aggressive medical therapy directed at asthma.
In one study, 25% of patients with unrecognized vocal cord dysfunction were needlessly intubated when they sought help in emergency rooms, he said.
Another study also found a high rate of repeat ER visits: nine per year in patients with undiagnosed vocal cord dysfunction, compared with five visits per year for asthmatic patients.
Individuals with vocal cord dysfunction often have a previous diagnosis of refractory or brittle asthma.
Patients with vocal cord dysfunction usually have wheezing or stridor on examination.
Other data suggest that 10% of patients labeled with refractory asthma and 11% of patients presenting in emergency rooms with acute asthma exacerbations have evidence of vocal cord dysfunction.
military, with its requirements for exercise and regular medical checkups for its recruits, has played a significant role in uncovering the actual scope of vocal cord dysfunction.
Long-term management of vocal cord dysfunction relies on training patients to recognize the onset of their attacks and to relax their vocal cords.
An attack of vocal cord dysfunction can be distinguished from an asthma attack by several means.
Triggers of vocal cord dysfunction include upper respiratory infection, exposure to tobacco smoke and other fumes or odors, talking or singing, exercise, emotional upset, and stress.
It is important to note that many patients who have vocal cord dysfunction have a comorbid psychiatric diagnosis.
A definitive diagnosis of vocal cord dysfunction is typically made by laryngoscopy, peak flow volumes, and other diagnostic tests, she noted.