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Functional Airway Disorder??

Hi All,

I've been referred to the RBH by my cons and one of the things he's mentioned in the referral is possible 'Functional Airway Disorder' as well as the diagnosis of VCD and Brittle asthma.

Has anyone heard of this or know anything about it? Info on the net (and i'm always cautious with whats inthe internet anyway) is quite technical....

He's also mentioned that i may be a candidate for brochothermoplasty and wondered if this was to do with the FAD?

Seeing my cons on the 1st March but thought i'd ask you lovely people as you have a wealth of knowledge :)

3 Replies

Sorry, I know nothing about thermoplasty but thought it was lower airways?

I'm also not sure I know about Functional Airway Disorder but I'm sure it was mentioned to me, if it's the same thing as Upper Airway Disorder(?). I am very confused though as I also looked it up and couldn't find anything about any sort of upper airway dysfunction or disorder which is not VCD, so the internet wasn't much help (plus it annoyed me with the 'it's usually psychogenic' in most of the articles I found - not what RBH say and they do a lot of research in these areas, so you are going to the right place as they should be able to tell you more!)

Wondering actually if functional airway disorder is another name for breathing pattern disorder? That might make sense as if mine was set off by less severe asthma and maybe VCD but was not necessarily easy to deal with/actually define properly what was going on, I can well believe that brittle asthma plus VCD would play havoc with your breathing pattern without it necessarily being shown on the usual questionnaires? Physio is not sure that for me, the VCD really does very much symptom-wise but has said that it all interacts and sets off a cycle, so hopefully the SALT and RBH will be able to control what they can and maybe it will stop the asthma going off on one so much! Their physios are really good.


I tried a search on google scholar with quotes around the phrase ""functional airway disorder"" and all I was able to turn up was an article on rhinoplasty with the sentence "" Depending on both factors, changes in the midvault can cause a functional airway disorder, and the nose also may need a complete

correction for cosmetic purposes.""

I'm guessing that the term isn't really a formal term. It is just a way of saying that something is disrupting the use of the airways, particularly the upper airways. So perhaps it could include things like VCD (problems at the level of the larynx) or even higher up in the sinuses and nose, e.g. chronic rhinitis?

It's my understanding that wheezes on inspriation (aka stridor) usually originate above the lungs, so if this is a feature of your breathing problems, that may be why they are looking at VCD and possibly other upper airway issues.

Note that this does not mean that they are not taking you seriously. From the various reading I've been doing it seems that the current thinking on complex asthma is to treat it as a syndrome that can originate in any part of the airway top to bottom and that the airway itself is integrated so that a problem higher up can trigger one lower down and vice versa.

I've only once had an inspiratory wheeze during an asthma attack and it seemed to me to be due to my losing control of the epiglottis due to the general difficulty I was having breathing. However, since I suspected that was what was going on (voice training has made me very sensitive to what is going on in my voicebox), I made a conscious effort to relax my larynx and keep an open throat when breathing. Sure enough I was able to eliminate the stridor. However, it didn't help with the breathing itself, just made it sound less scary and obnoxious.


Im under the impression fad is a combination of factors such as obesity, vcd, hyperventilation, reflux etc that cause the breathing to be effected that is not related to a anatomical of physiological problem with the lungs


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