British Lung Foundation

Vocal chord dysfunction vs asthma

I found this Mayo Clinic article very interesting:

Vocal cord dysfunction: Is it a type of asthma?

What's the difference between vocal cord dysfunction and asthma?


from James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Both asthma and vocal cord dysfunction can make breathing difficult. Signs and symptoms of either condition can include coughing, wheezing, throat tightness and hoarseness, but they're two separate disorders.

Vocal cord dysfunction is the abnormal closing of the vocal cords when you breathe in or out. It's also called laryngeal dysfunction or paradoxical vocal cord motion. As with asthma, breathing in lung irritants, having an upper respiratory infection or exercising may trigger vocal cord dysfunction symptoms. However, unlike asthma, vocal cord dysfunction isn't an immune system reaction and doesn't involve the lower airways. Treatment for the two conditions also is different.

Your doctor may suspect vocal cord dysfunction rather than asthma if:

It's harder to breathe in than breathe out when symptoms flare up

Asthma medications don't seem to ease your symptoms

Results of breathing (pulmonary function) tests or other tests for asthma are normal

Your symptoms are not due to a respiratory infection alone, something in your airways or another health problem.

Because they have similar triggers and symptoms, it's common for vocal cord dysfunction to be misdiagnosed as asthma. This can lead to use of asthma medications that don't help and cause side effects. Some people have both vocal cord dysfunction and asthma, and require treatment for both conditions.

6 Replies

Very interesting! I once had a cough that lasted 7 months and the longer it went on, the more my voice changed! No one discussed vocal cord dysfunction or suggested treatment! Their solution was to wait till the cough stopped and things went back to normal! That worked but took a further 5 months! Hey ho!

Thanks for posting

Enjoy your weekend



Oh no, that is a really long time! What terribly lazy advice they gave you GRRRR

My voice often goes, it's the mucous though, once I manage to clear my throat my voice comes back. It's sooooo annoying.

Best wishes to you too for a good weekend


I can be talking normally one moment and the next am all husky and shecksie sounding. Unfortunately it doesn't last and I go back to sounding as though I'm twelve. :)


My wife is always being asked if her mum is here. She sounds about 14 on the phone.

Bobby xxxx


Thanks for this interesting article and info. I,ve been losing my voice just lately with hoarseness maybe its vocal cord dysfunction I've been thinking it was just all the different treatments


Super information. I've been suffering a husky voice of late, but was putting it down to the chest infection, and before that to the inhalers. I'll take a note of your blog and take it to the docs.

Sandra x x x


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