Laryngospasm

 

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Laryngospasm: Causes, Treatment, Management and More


Symptoms

* Difficulty breathing

* Stridor

* Typically lasts 30-60 seconds, may last 1-2 minutes



Common Causes

* Acid Reflux or GERD

* Silent Reflux

* Surgical Complications

* Distressed or Damaged Vocal Cords (Larynx)

* Viral infections


It is important the cause of laryngospasm is addressed. Please consult a physican.


Laryngospasm Explained

“Laryngospasm involves three structures — the aryepiglottic folds, false vocal cords and the true vocal cords. The intrinsic muscles of the larynx are normally concerned in the movement of the laryngeal cartilages relative to one another. The muscles most involved in the laryngospasm are the lateral cricoarytenoid and the thyroarytenoids (adductors of the glottis) and the cricothyroid (a tensor of the vocal cords). During a laryngospasm either the true vocal cords alone or the true and false vocal cords both become apposed in the midline and close the glottis.

The intrinsic muscles receive a motor supply from the external branch of the superior laryngeal nerve and recurrent laryngeal nerve one on each side. The recurrent nerve supplying all intrinsic muscles other than the cricothyroid, which is supplied by the external branch of the superior laryngeal nerve.” -http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/41551164/Perioperative-Laryngospasm--Review-of-literature

“In cases where the patient has had a severe infection or other excessive irritation to the vocal cords, the vocal cords will sometimes become abnormally sensitive and the vocal cords will go into an involuntary spasm, bringing the vocal cords to the midline. With inspiration, normally the vocal cords will open widely to allow the air to go down into the trachea. When laryngospasm occurs, the vocal cords are in this involuntary spasm and will not open to allow air in. Therefore, the patient gets a very high, stridorous sound and feels very short of breath. As the patient gets more anxious, feeling he cannot breathe well, the spasm gets worse. Generally the spasm will remit spontaneously after one to two minutes. It is imperative that the patient stay calm and try to drink a neutral fluid, like water, to wash off any type of irritant to the vocal cords. In severe cases patients have been known to faint. As soon as the patient is unconscious, the vocal cords naturally relax. Therefore, laryngospasm can be an extremely uncomfortable and scary process, but generally is benign once the acute episodes are over. It is important that, whatever the irritative focus, the cause of laryngospasm is addressed. That means any infection is treated with appropriate antibiotics, that steroids are given to decrease inflammation, that acid blockers, such as ranitidine, Prevacid or Prilosec, are employed to neutralize stomach acid, that adequate throat moisturization is maintained by increased oral fluid intake and the use of a bedside humidifier or use of guaifenesin to cause the throat to make more fluids. In certain cases, smooth muscle relaxants are also used to decrease the chance of laryngospasm.”-http://www.entcenter.net/id290.htm

Managing Laryngospasm

Generally, most ENT specialists suggest that the best way of dealing with laryngospasm is understanding it and remaining calm. They can be terrifying, so this can be challenging, but the laryngospasm will pass.


Treatments

“It is important that, whatever the irritative focus, the cause of laryngospasm is addressed. That means any infection is treated with appropriate antibiotics, that steroids are given to decrease inflammation, that acid blockers, such as ranitidine, Prevacid or Prilosec, are employed to neutralize stomach acid, that adequate throat moisturization is maintained by increased oral fluid intake and the use of a bedside humidifier or use of guaifenesin to cause the throat to make more fluids. In certain cases, smooth muscle relaxants are also used to decrease the chance of laryngospasm.-http://www.entcenter.net/id290.htm


Laryngospasm in the operating room is treated by hyperextending the patient's neck and administering assisted ventilation with 100% oxygen. In more serious cases it may require the administration of an intravenous muscle relaxant and reintubation.


Laryngospasm is often treated by treating the underlying condition, such as treating acid reflux. In the most extreme cases botox injections are used to paralyze the vocal cords or a tracheotomy is performed.



Consult a Physician

When laryngospasms occur, it is important to be seen by an otolaryngologist so that a full visualization of the vocal cords can be undertaken, and to rule out any possible neoplasm or more severe infection, such as epiglottitis.

 

Information contained within this site is intended solely for general educational purposes and is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice relative to your specific medical condition or question. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health provider for any questions you may have regarding your medical condition. Only your physician can provide specific diagnoses and therapies.