What Is Vocal Cord Dysfunction
When you breathe, the vocal cords in your voice box open as you breathe in and then close over, though not fully, while you breathe out. When you speak or sing, the vocal cords vibrate to make a noise.
If it is suspected that you have VCD, you may be given a breathing test, called spirometry that looks at how air moves in and out of your lungs. Unfortunately if your suspected VCD is not active when you go for testing, your results may be normal so it can be difficult to check whether you actually have VCD.
In this case, it is possible to trigger an attack, so the cords can be watched. This can be done using an irritant or an exercise stress test, so the vocal cords can be watched in the VCD situation. The classic form of VCD shows that the vocal cords move towards each other when you breathe IN (instead of opening fully) leaving a small triangular hole for air to move through. This is the opposite of what happens with people who have asthma, where the vocal cords close over on breathing OUT and they do not show the triangular shaped hole. VCD can often be mistaken for asthma, which is the most common chronic illness among children.
The big difference between vocal cord dysfunction and asthma is that VCD causes more difficulty breathing in than breathing out and the opposite for asthma. It is possible to suffer from both.
It is possible to improve VCD by the use of voice therapy. This can include singing exercises. You should consult your voice therapist for exercises that will suit your condition. Many people use voice exercises from singing to help train and improve their vocal cord functions.
Singing is a great way to express yourself. You can stand or sit right where you are and sing. It is a way to communicate, creatively and effectively. Singers who want to extend their range or improve their voice, take lessons and practice various exercises. Many of these can also help improve VCD.
For some people, exercise of any sort may mean losing some sleep but for opera singers, for instance, physical fitness, as well as voice fitness is essential to their performance. Using some of these exercises may help but it will depend on the reason, (if any) nature and extent of your VCD as to how much your voice will improve.
If you decide to practice singing, consult your voice therapist and they may advise you to keep any practice sessions to an hour or less to prevent injury to your vocal chords. You may even need to start out with ten minute sessions to build up your vocal cords. If you feel pain when practising singing exercises, consult your voice therapist.
Managing VCD generally involves using several techniques, such as speech therapy with emphasis on vocal cord relaxation and breathing techniques. Speech therapists can prescribe special exercises to help you be more aware of abdominal breathing and learn to relax your throat muscles. This can give you more control over your throat and breathing. The exercises should be practised when you have no symptoms, so you already know how to use them when you need to during a VCD bout. These exercises will help you improve your vocal cord movements and also improve airflow to the lungs.
Warm up your voice first. There are many different types of good singing exercises that can be use to warm up the voice. If you are doing this to improve VCD, consult your therapist first.