Is GERD Causing Vocal Cord Dysfunction – Laryngospasms?
If you have ever felt a tightening or seizing of your vocal cords when taking in a breath of air, you may have experienced laryngospasm. This rare experience can be frightening because blocked air flow to the lungs hinders the ability to speak or breathe.
These vocal cord spasms can occur while a person is awake or sleeping, and they usually last less than a minute. Some people may experience laryngospasm as an isolated incident, while others may have recurring episodes. Regardless of the interval, they are distressing and scary.
What Causes Laryngospasm?
Laryngospasm is often caused by a reaction of the gastrointestinal tract. In many cases, it is caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic condition that allows undigested food and gastric acid to backflow into the esophagus. This condition is caused by a weakened valve between the stomach and esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When functioning normally, the LES relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into the stomach before closing again. When the muscle relaxes abnormally, it allows stomach acid to seep into the esophagus. If acid or food matter reaches the larynx, the vocal cords may seize and contract.
Common Symptoms of GERD Include:
• Chest pain
• Burning in chest or throat
• Sour taste in mouth
• Dry cough
• Regurgitation of food
• Sensation of a lump in the throat
What to do in Case of Laryngospasm
The most important thing to remember if you experience a laryngospasm is to try to relax. If you are near a water source, drink small sips of water to try to wash away acid or undigested food that may be irritating the larynx. Remember that laryngospasm usually does not constitute a medical emergency and is not associated with fatality.
How is Laryngospasm Treated?
If you are experiencing chronic laryngospasm, it is important to find the underlying cause. Laryngospasm may be triggered by GERD, asthma, allergies or stress. A gastroenterologist can help find the cause of laryngospasm, so make an appointment to find answers and relief (Source: Healthline).