Vocal Cord Dysfunction

Vocal cord dysfunction occurs when the vocal cords come together instead of opening up while a person inhales. Children with vocal cord dysfunction may experience difficulty inhaling, shortness of breath, noisy breathing (also called stridor), tightness in the throat area, throat clearing or coughing.

For many children, vocal cord dysfunction (also known as paradoxical vocal cord motion) happens while they are exercising or when they are exposed to certain irritants like strong odors, stress and anxiety, exercise, or upper respiratory infections.

Vocal cord dysfunction is sometimes mistaken for asthma because the symptoms can appear similar, so an accurate diagnosis is essential for effective treatment. Vocal cord dysfunction can also co-occur with asthma. Our speech-language pathologists are specially trained in evaluating and treating vocal cord dysfunction, and work closely with physicians and other specialists to provide patients with personalized care.


During your child’s evaluation, the speech-language pathologist will interview you and your child about his or her symptoms, triggers and vocal use and hygiene. We will also assess your child’s:

  • Laryngeal hypersensitivity
  • Musculoskeletal tension in the laryngeal area
  • Respiration pattern
  • Response to irritants like increased activity
  • Speech, voice and speech structures

Depending on your child’s condition, evaluation may also include specialists in pulmonology, ENT (also called ear, nose and throat, or otolaryngology) or allergy; or examination of your child’s larynx (voice box) or vocal folds.


If your child is diagnosed with vocal cord dysfunction, the speech-language pathologist will provide the following at the time of the evaluation:

  • Breathing techniques your child should practice at home several times throughout the day
  • Cough control techniques
  • Education for the patient and parents about the condition and its management
  • Instructions on identifying and controlling tension in the vocal cords
  • Instructions on relaxed throat breathing to help control symptoms

Your child may also receive speech therapy sessions once per week for a short time for voice therapy, to learn techniques to control vocal cord dysfunction and manage behaviors like chronic coughing or throat clearing that may be irritating the upper airway.

Contact us

For more information or to have your child evaluated for vocal cord dysfunction, call us at 727-767-4141.

You can also request an appointment online using our online form. 

Medical records may be faxed to 727-767-6743.