Paradoxical vocal fold movement (PVFM) is a voice disorder. The vocal folds (cords) behave in a normal fashion almost all of the time, but, when an episode occurs, the vocal cords close when they should open, such as when breathing.
Signs and symptoms
PVFM can be mistaken for asthma as it leads to wheezing and difficulty breathing, sometimes to the point of requiring hospitalization.
PVFM is often diagnosed by a team of professionals, including:
- speech-language pathologist
- otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor)
Diagnosis is difficult because symptoms vary greatly between people. Episodes are not predictable. The team will review the person’s medical history, including medications and smoking history. A laryngeal evaluation using endoscopy (passing a scope into the throat to view the vocal cords) is typically done. A voice evaluation by an SLP also aids in diagnosing this disorder.
PVFM is treated both medically and behaviorally. Medical intervention addresses any physical and/or psychological factors. Behavioral intervention with an SLP includes vocal exercises, relaxation techniques, and proper breath support for speech. The goal of intervention is to make the individual aware of what triggers PVFM so they can avoid those situations. The person is also taught how to handle an episode when it occurs.
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