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Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

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Conditions We Treat: Vocal Cord Dysfunction

Vocal Cord Dysfunction, also known as paradoxical vocal cord motion, is a condition where the vocal cords close when they should be open. The vocal cords are the gateway to the lungs; they should remain open while you breathe and close when you talk, cough, or laugh. Patients with vocal cord dysfunction experience the vocal cords closing during breathing, typically in episodes that last for seconds-to-several minutes at a time.

Vocal Cord Dysfunction: What You Need to Know

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  • Some common symptoms of vocal cord dysfunction include throat or chest tightness, noisy inhalation, difficulty getting air "in", feeling of throat closing, feeling of being "strangled", intermittent shortness of breath, chronic cough, and voice change or inability to speak.
  • Common triggers of a vocal cord dysfunction episode include reflux, airborne particles, strong emotion, voice overuse, cough, exercise, or fumes.
  • Vocal cord dysfunction is sometimes misdiagnosed as asthma. Although it can co-occur with asthma, these episodes do not usually respond to asthma medication.

Patient Resources

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Why Choose Johns Hopkins for Vocal Cord Dysfunction?

Johns Hopkins Voice Center Doctors

Our Physicians

Rely on the expertise of our physicians to treat vocal cord dysfunction.


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Our Patient Education

Dr. Lee Akst, Director of the Johns Hopkins Voice Center, answers some of the most frequently asked questions.

Watch our Voice Center FAQ video.