Living With Vocal Cord Dysfunction

The body, at times, gives us warning signs that something is askew. If we pay attention to them we can find out where the problem lies and work to improve the situation. Giving heed to symptoms lead to rectifying a health problem or at least making it tolerable. Yes many conditions can be well managed and therefore easier to live with.

One such issue that can arise is Vocal Cord Dysfunction. It often manifests itself by means of a tightening of the throat, shortness of breath, a wheezing or coughing. What is this condition? Well, let’s consider how the vocal cords should function and then we’ll discuss what can sometimes happen instead.

Where Are The Vocal Cords Located?

The vocal cords are a mucus membrane that covers muscle and cartiledge in the larynx, or voice box.

As we breathe in, they should open allowing air to flow through, and as we breathe out, they should close, thus restricting air flow. In an unhealthy vocal cord, however, a disorder occurs that causes them to close when they shouldn’t thus limiting the ability to take in air.

The cause of this malfunction is varied. The vocal cords begin to act out as they become inflamed. Sometimes this is due to overuse. Many people who use their voice as their living often experience this effect, such as singers. Another reason could be that an infectious organism is the culprit. Viruses that enter the body when the immune system is down, such as colds and flu, may also cause such inflammation. Even allergies that include post nasal drip may be an irritant to the vocal cords and have the same effect. So what can be done to deal with this situation if it becomes recurring? Since the voice is such a necessary and professional tool for most people and we depend on it so much for even the simplest of communication we must do all we can to alleviate this problem. For one who must live with it there are some simple steps to take to help cope a little better.


One thing to consider is our diet. It plays such a vital role in most of our health concerns. As we all know water is essential for life. It is also necessary for our vocal cords. It aids in thinning secretions that lubricate the cords thus facilitating ease of distribution and protecting them from dryness which can cause inflammation. So be sure to drink those 8 glasses a day as the doctor recommended.

Another great help is eating more healthy fat foods. Things like tuna, salmon, almonds, flaxseed. All of these have the Omega 3’s our body needs for self repair. And don’t overlook ┬áthose antioxidant-containing treats as well, such as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and pecans, to name a few. Eating more of these and less dairy (which can act as an allergen) and alcohol will certainly help us in the fight toward vocal cord health.


Not to be overlooked also is the need to exercise the vocal cords as well. Breathing exercises may help to relax them and thus aid in better air flow and less swelling. One such exercise is as follows: 1) Lie on the floor with knees bent up toward the ceiling. Place one hand on your abdomen to monitor how it moves during the exercise. 2) Inhale through the nose, keeping the chest and shoulders stationary. While taking air into the abdomen, watch the hand laying across it move upward as you inhale. 3) Exhale with your lips pursed as if you were going to whistle. Make a soft sigh and observe your hand lower as you breathe out. 4) Keep inhaling and exhaling for a few minutes. Alternate between quick breaths and slower ones as you go. Repeat this exercise 3-5 times a day. Soon you’ll notice the tightening in your throat may become less frequent and the cough may subside as the cords are trained to relax again.

Keeping in mind our diet as well as the need for plenty of water and exercise can put us well on the road to recovery from many situations. Or at least help us to cope with the ones we can’t remedy.