Reviewed by Heather L. Hodges (Gustafson), MA, CCC-SLP, J. Tod Olin, MD, MSCS

Once diagnosed with vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) or exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction (EILO), medical and behavioral management of the condition can begin. Medication alone will not help alleviate the conditions, so active participation with behavioral techniques described below will help control symptoms.

 

Behavioral

Speech therapy is the cornerstone of treatment for VCD and EILO. Individualized exercises and techniques are taught to help you:
  • Learn and feel comfortable implementing a variety of VCD and EILO breathing techniques

  • Control VCD  and EILO symptoms after exposure to triggers or while exercising

  • Increase awareness of breathing

  • Remediate maladaptive breathing patterns

  • Increase awareness of body posture and encourage relaxation of throat muscles

  • Maximize vocal hygiene

  • Decrease vocal cord sensitivity to odors, temperature changes, exercise and other triggers.

The goals of therapy are to teach you techniques to prevent and eliminate VCD and EILO.

Our speech-language pathology team can make this happen in office sessions and during challenge sessions during which we actively expose patients to their triggers or exercise environments.

Many people will require follow-up appointments with the speech-language pathologist. These appointments may include:

Irritant Challenge 

  • Provide education/support for implementation of techniques to de-escalate VCD when exposed to triggers.

 

Exercise Challenge

  • Provide education/support for implementation of techniques to de-escalate VCD when triggered with exercise

  • Common challenges include walking, running, sprinting, biking, skating, swimming, dancing/cheering, wrestling, basketball and baseball.

 

Medical

Treatment for the following potentially coexisting conditions is initiated if present:

 

Counseling

Another important part of treatment is supportive counseling. Counseling can help people adjust to a new diagnosis and a new treatment program. Counseling can also help identify and deal positively with stress that may be an underlying factor in VCD. Most people with VCD find counseling to be very beneficial. Sometimes, performance psychologists can be helpful for people with EILO. Finally, some people benefit from biofeedback sessions targeting awareness of breathing and tension patterns as treatment for VCD and EILO.

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