What is Vocal Cord Dysfunction?

Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD), or Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement (PVFM), occurs when the vocal cords close instead of open when we breathe in.

It is very common among high school athletes, and is often triggered by performance anxiety on the field. Students with VCD have trouble breathing during exercise and are often treated as if they have asthma, which, of course, does not work.

The treatment for asthma usually includes a bronchodilator, such as albuterol.  Although albuterol helps with asthma, it does not help with VCD.

To make the diagnosis even more challenging, as it happens, many patients with asthma also have VCD. The main difference between asthma and VCD is that with asthma, patients have more trouble breathing out.

The approach I use for the treatment of patients with VCD is the same one I use for patients who have vocal tics, such as a cough habit/cough tic.  For patients with VCD, I use a combination of medical hypnosis to treat the symptom, and cognitive behavioral therapy to treat the anxiety component.

Typically, there is significant improvement after only 1 to 4 visits.

For more information about this, feel free to click here to send me an email, and I will be happy to arrange a 20-minute free consultation to discuss this with you.

Below is a note from the mother of a 17-year-old young woman who I recently treated for this problem:

My daughter is a high-achieving student-athlete, who struggled in her junior year with vocal cord dysfunction and anxiety.  After seeing all sorts of medical specialists, we turned to Dr. Lazarus.  Within two sessions, Dr. Lazarus made an immediate impact on my daughter.  She took note of what caused her anxiety and breathing challenges and began to focus on the techniques Dr. Lazarus taught her on how to understand and address those circumstances. Dr. Lazarus gets the challenges of today’s Bay Area teenagers and the stress they can feel.  His time with her will make a lasting difference in the way she thinks about ownership of her own well-being.  It was a gift to have Dr. Lazarus as a resource in our community.  

Many thanks!

Dr. Lazarus

Dr. Jeff Lazarus

Jeffrey E. Lazarus, MD, FAAP is a board certified pediatrician who combines more than 25 years of general pediatrics experience with the use of medical hypnosis and visualization techniques to treat children and adults.