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Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD)

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What is Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD)?

Vocal Cord Dysfunction, also called Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM), is when the vocal cords don’t fully open when you breathe in, blocking your airways. Vocal cords are muscles located in the larynx (voice box) that vibrate when you breathe out, producing the voice.

Anyone can experience VCD, though it is more common in women than in men, especially women ages 20 to 40.

Common triggers of VCD include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Exercise
  • Postnasal drip or allergies
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Voice overuse
  • Inhaling fumes
  • Cold or cough

Common symptoms of VCD include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Frequently coughing or clearing your throat
  • Feeling of a lump in your throat
  • Feeling of tightness in throat or chest
  • Hoarseness
  • Feeling of choking
  • Stridor, a wheezing sound that happens when you inhale
  • Voice changes

UR Medicine's Treatments for Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD)

VCD frequently resembles asthma, making diagnoses difficult. To diagnose VCD, your provider may do a variety of tests, including:

  • Flow-volume loop, which shows if there’s a blockage in your airways
  • Laryngoscopy, which uses a camera on a tube to examine your vocal cords

Depending on what is triggering your VCD, your provider may suggest treatment that will target that trigger. For example, if you have acid reflux, they may suggest antacids.

Treatment for VCD varies, and often involves breathing therapy with a speech-language pathologist. Our expert speech pathologists may teach you special breathing exercises to help control episodes of VCD. For example, they may help you breathe from your stomach, or relax your throat.

What Sets Us Apart?

At UR Medicine, we utilize a multidisciplinary approach to care for children and adults. We are exposed to more complex cases than most providers in the Rochester region, and each of our patients can be assured they are always in the hands of highly skilled experts. 

UR Medicine Voice Center is the only voice center in Upstate New York with a comprehensive team of voice experts, including ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physicians who are fellowship-trained in voice disorders. Our speech pathologists have specialized training to evaluate and treat patients with vocal cord dysfunction. They will work collaboratively with your physician and capitalize on the expertise of multiple disciplines, including GI, Thoracic Surgery, Pulmonology, Otolaryngology, and Neurology to best treat your vocal cord dysfunction.

Providers

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Locations

We serve you in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region.

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3 locations

Ear, Nose, & Throat - Batavia
Part of Strong Memorial Hospital

7995 Call Parkway, Suite 100
Batavia, NY 14020

Ear, Nose, & Throat - Brighton
Part of Strong Memorial Hospital

Clinton Woods
2365 South Clinton Avenue, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14618

Voice Center - Brighton

Clinton Woods
2365 South Clinton Avenue, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14618

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