With Vocal Cord Dysfunction, sufferers may have a cough and wheezing and difficulty in breathing; and they may feel they have a tightness in their throat or they may find their voice goes hoarse. These symptoms are very similar to those of asthma and both can be triggered by such things as colds or viruses, breathing in lung irritants, such as smoke or even exercising. Reflux from the stomach (GERD) can also be a trigger.
An Allergy Or Not?
Unlike asthma, however, VCD is NOT an allergy nor an allergic response and the treatments for both are very different. They are also different in that asthma sufferers have more difficulty breathing out than in, whereas VCD suffers have more difficulty on the in breath. Also, the allergic response of asthma means the bronchial tubes constrict (tighten), whereas it is the muscles in the vocal cords that tighten with VCD. VCD can also result from paralysis of one (unilateral paralysis) or both (bilateral paralysis) of the vocal cords.
It is possible to suffer from both simultaneously and in this case, it’s important to see a specialist who has experience with these types of complex situations.
Treatment for the allergic type reactions in Asthma may include the use of an inhaler to expand (dilate) the bronchial tubes, whereas treatment for VCD may include relaxation techniques and muscle control exercises for the throat muscles.
Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is also known as paradoxical vocal cord dysfunction. So what are the symptoms and how do you tell the difference?
Vocal Cord Dysfunction Symptoms (VCD Symptoms)
It can be difficult to diagnose whether or not a person has asthma or vocal cord dysfunction because they have similar symptoms and triggers. Breathing is made more difficult in both, as well as having a hoarse voice, tightness in the throat, wheezing, and coughing. They are however two totally separate disorders.
When you have VCD, vocal cord dysfunction, this means your vocal cords do not close properly when you are breathing in. If you are exposed to any lung irritant or contract an upper respiratory infection, this can trigger the symptoms, as also can exercise . The same is true with asthma. Asthma is the immune system having a reaction and involves lower airway infection, whereas, VCD does not, therefore treatment will be different for each condition.
This is important because if improperly diagnosed, a person who suffers from vocal cord dysfunction and who is treated with prescribed asthma medication such as cortisteroids and bronchodilators will receive absolutely no benefit and may indeed suffer from unwanted side effects.
One way to suspect vocal cord dysfunction instead of asthma is if
Result of pulmonary function test comes back normal
Asthma medication does not work
Tightness in your throat
When your symptoms flare up you have more difficulty breathing in rather than out
You have no respiratory infection
Nothing is present obstructing your airway
With asthma you will have
Tightness in your lower or middle chest
More difficulty breathing out, with high pitched or wheezing sound
Respiratory infections are more prevalent
Bronchodilator or other asthma medications work
As many as 25% of those who suffer from vocal cord dysfunction also have asthma so they may not realize that they have both of the disorders until the vocal cord dysfunction starts to worsen.
It Is NOT A Panic Attack
Vocal cord dysfunction has also been misdiagnosed as panic attacks because it can be triggered by psychological distress. It is important to note that it is not caused by stress but when a person is under extremely stressful situations, this can trigger the symptoms. Other factors that seem to bring on symptoms are having a post nasal drip and suffering from gas reflux. At times environmental causes, such as shouting or singing, tobacco smoke exposure, chemical fumes or even physical exercise can trigger the symptoms.
Asthma is when the bronchial tubes are inflamed. This causes sticky secretion to be produced inside of the tubes. This mucus clogs the airway and restricts oxygen flow to the lungs. Those at risk the most for asthma are those who suffer from allergies and those who have family histories of asthma. If a parent suffers from asthma, their children are from 3 to 6 times more likely to have it also. In childhood it is more common for boys to be diagnosed while girls are diagnosed more as adults. If you have frequent coughing, sleeping difficulties, fatigue that cannot be explained and feeling as if you’re out of breath, you may consider being checked for asthma.
Asthma sufferers use long term medications to control the bronchial inflammation. Even so there are sometimes flare ups (called asthma attacks) in which an inhaler filled with medications much be used immediately. These medications will work very quickly to relax the muscles that tighten around the airways and allow the flow of air to the lungs to be restored. These inhalers must be carried by the asthmatic at all times since they could be exposed to a trigger and have to use it.
In cases that are severe, asthma can be life threatening because it closes off the airway. Vocal cord dysfunction, however uncomfortable and whatever terrible feelings it produces, does not close off the airway. It is not life threatening. It can of course, still be the source of much anxiety so it is important that you get checked out by a doctor right away if you have any of the symptoms mentioned, to get the proper diagnosis.
Asthma is an extremely hard disease to have to live with. It takes away your ability to do simple every day tasks, like going for a walk outside. Do not expect to get rid of this condition. The best you can do is keep it under control. That said, there ARE tips and techniques which can make managing your asthma and returning to a full life possible, and we’ve included many in this article. Read on!
If you are having an asthma attack (mild or moderate), you need to try to force air out of the lungs. Exhale quickly and with power. Push that air from your lungs with all that you’ve got! Inhale three times with short breaths, and then on the fourth one take a deeper breath so your lungs are full of air but still comfortable. Then breath out as hard as you can again. This will make your breathing rhythmic and help you pay more attention to it. It also allows you to take in more air by completely emptying your lungs. You might cough hard or create mucus, but its just a sign your breathing is getting back to normal.
If inhaler use happens more than two times in each of your weeks, you must schedule an appointment with your doctor about this and possibly adjust your medication. Frequent need of an inhaler is an indication that the medication prescribed is not the right strength. Having to restock your inhaler more frequently than once every six months is also a concern.
As we mentioned here, asthma is a severe condition that you should not take lightly. If you think your symptoms are getting out of control, seek professional advice and do all that you can to prevent symptoms in the first place. Use the advice you have read from this article to manage your symptoms of asthma and take back control over your life.
The number of people suffering from asthma is rising, so treatment is a more common need than ever. The demand for products and treatment leads to some very innovative medicines and therapies. Now is a great time to find something to treat your asthma. Here are a few tips to provide that help.
If you suffer from asthma, and have many attacks that are related to your allergy symptoms, there is a medication that is injected and provides long term effects. Your allergist may recommend a variety of medications to control your reactions and the onset of asthma.
The best thing to do for your asthma is to know what particular things trigger the attacks. For some, dust particles and animal dander prompt asthma flares. In addition to attempting to avoid substances that can trigger your asthma, you can consider air filtration systems that remove irritants from the air of your home.
Asthma is sometimes caused by genetics, and sometimes by environmental causes or both. If a loved one in your household suffers from asthma, be mindful of any signs in others. Air pollutants like smoke and mold spores can trigger an asthma attack, so keep your home clean to avoid irritation.
Don’t exercise in cold, dry air if you have asthma. This is because when your bronchial airways become cool and dry, they can cause an asthma attack. So, it is always best to be in conditions that are humid and warm while doing strenuous exercises.
Monitor your children for food allergies. If you notice any kinds of hives or breathing problems after they have eaten a particular food, have them tested for the allergy at the doctor’s. These food allergies should be monitored, as they could be indicative of asthma or possibly other allergic reactions.
Avoid allergens and consult your doctor if your current medication fails to limit your asthma attacks to less than three each week and especially if you find your medication becoming less effective. Medical professionals generally consider two or more allergy attacks weekly to be dangerous, but completely preventable.
Some of the most notorious causes of asthma attacks exist in normal households. These are dust, mold and spores. If you want to prevent and manage these sources of asthma attacks, have regular home inspections by a professional, and get identified harming agents cleaned out. It also helps to clean your home frequently to prevent a build-up of these allergens but make sure you use environmentally friendly cleaning agents, such as vinegar and water, rather than perfumed aerosol sprays which can trigger asthma attacks in susceptible people.
As shown, there is a wealth of treatments and strategies to help control your asthma and you need to find a treatment that works well for you. There is a lot of information available that will show the benefits of each treatment. When you follow these tips, you will be able to improve how well you breathe.
Asthma can be a difficult condition to have to deal with. And for some people, such tasks as even going for a stroll, may be too difficult. Asthma is incurable and can be difficult to control but there are many ways in which you can stop your symptoms from getting too severe.
Peer Support for people with asthma
Speaking to your peers, who also suffer from asthma, could be an eye-opening and life-changing experience. Support groups can give you some suggestions on how deal with certain situations, and help you to fight your asthma and understand how best to deal with it. Support from people who understand your situation is key.
Medical Professionals to help with asthma symptoms and management
You should have a team of medical professionals to help you craft your asthma treatment. Of course your regular doctor will be the one you go to for help with your asthma, but you should also see a specialist. Asthma centers, pulmonologists, nutritionists and allergists can all work with you, making sure you are getting all the treatment you need. Your own doctor or medical practice may also have special clinics run locally, to help you avoid travelling long distances and can also help you learn to manage your asthma.
Asthma medication may need to be adjusted if you are suffering from a cold, flu or hay fever. The effects of some illnesses can exacerbate the effects of asthma, causing the need for more treatments. The doctor may choose to pursue additional treatment options during your illness as well.
If you need to take your asthma supplies on an airplane, it is a good idea to bring your doctor’s prescription with you. If you have written proof about the item you have, and that it is medically necessary, there will be fewer hassle with security.
Keeping your home suitable for someone with asthma
Clean your home with a wet mop instead of a broom. Sweeping the floor kicks up dust and other debris that can set off an attack of your asthma. You can greatly reduce this by using a wet sponge, damp rag, or moist cloth instead of your a broom or duster.
If you suffer from asthma, you might want to use a pillow that doesn’t contain feathers. Pillow feathers are known to worsen asthma and affect the lungs. The same reasoning applies to all bedding – only purchase bed sheets and comforters that are manufactured from hypoallergenic materials.
Asthma can be a dangerous disease – never ignore the symptoms. Take the appropriate steps to prevent and reduce symptoms, and consult professional help if you think that the symptoms are starting to get out of control. If you use the above advice, you can make asthma something you only have to attend to occasionally rather than something that rules your life.