by Carol Sidofsky

Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD) is a hidden, yet very, VERY common, usually unsuspected condition of throat closure &/or choking sensation that can strike any age, can cause sudden, severe episodes (attacks) of breathing difficulty, sometimes with wheezing (whistling or sighing sounds) &/or stridor (harsh, high pitched, ‘windy’ gasping sounds). In the Emergency Room (ER), VCD is usually misdiagnosed as being difficult (refractory, or brittle) asthma, anaphylaxis (severe, life threatening allergic reaction), or hysteria (all in one’s head).

VCD can feel like straining to breathe through a straw. Some cannot get any air in (or out) at all. Panic and fear of dying from feeling that one isn’t getting in enough air, often causes repeated ER visits or hospitalizations. 

The "throat" closure actually occurs inside the voice box (larynx), (behind the "Adam's apple") when the vocal cords go into a "closing-up" spasm.  (See drawing on web-page 1).

VCD attacks can happen at any time, including at night, while sleeping, or, at rest, when exercising, during or after meals, etc.

A VCD patient can have one, several, or even many causes of VCD.

Many doctors, nurses and ER personnel have not yet heard about VCD, even though VCD is common. Although there are many journal articles in the medical literature about VCD, few medical text books even mention VCD, even though VCD has probably existed since time immemorial --like from volcanoes, dust storms, forest fires, "silent" gastric reflux (without heartburn), other medical conditions, etc.

VCD was seen to exist, back in the 1800's (mistakenly called hysteria), was written about in medical literature in the 1970's, and later, VCD was studied extensively by Nat'l Jewish Medical & Research Center in Denver, CO in the 1980's to the present/2020. Much confusion existed and still does, from the many different names given to VCD, and from the multi-factorial (many possible causes) nature of VCD. 

Misdiagnosis of VCD as asthma--when the person doesn't have asthma at all--or, has only mild to moderate asthma-- has resulted in many VCD patients unnecessarily taking steroids &/or bronchodilators for years, and even decades, before finally getting correctly diagnosed with VCD.

Also, VCD attacks can happen alone, or along with, some life-threatening conditions. Some of these life-threatening conditions may have symptoms that "mimic" (seem similar to) VCD. Some examples are: severe asthma, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), collapsed lung(s), pulmonary embolism, ACTUAL CHOKING, something obstructing (closing off) or narrowing parts of the airway, spasms of the diaphragm muscle, PEDIATRIC GASTRIC REFLUX, etc. 

And, (after the patient is saved by Emergency Room doctors), some of these life-threatening conditions, may even cause VCD attacks. One example of this, is GASTRIC REFLUX (PEDIATRIC, OR AT ANY AGE), that can cause VCD. And/or, ACTUAL CHOKING can cause (bring on) a VCD attack in those who are "pre-disposed" (for reasons I don't know) to getting VCD.

VCD attacks, themselves, can sometimes be life threatening (see webpage 2). And, please see NOTE!!! below:

NOTE!!!: To learn HOW TO STOP VCD ATTACKS, please click on webPAGE 4. See "VCD attack SURVIVAL GUIDE" on webPAGE 4. To learn HOW TO PREVENT FUTURE VCD ATTACKS, please click on webPAGE 5 (and web-page 3).

You are now on the HOME PAGE web-page of this website. You can easily get to any of the other 11 web-pages, by "clicking" the mouse pointer/arrow on top of any web-page description you see in the OUTLINE. Or, you can click on top of a web-page number (& the 'links' web-page) at the very end/bottom of this home-page.(On most web-pages, you can also click on the silver "back" and "next" buttons.) To see what web-page you are on, look at upper right corner, or bottom, of the web-page. When printed out, each webpage is several pages long. This website has a total of 12 web pages.

I made this website in the spring of 2001, and I continue to update it (2021).

OUTLINE of webpages:

1. What exactly is Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD)? How is VCD different from laryngospasm? Or is it? VCD is ONE kind of laryngospasm!

2. List of some SIGNS (physical, objective--seen, etc. by others) and SYMPTOMS (subjective--experienced by patient) that occur during VCD attacks (and between attacks):

3. How to recognize and accurately diagnose VCD/laryngospasms:

4. How can VCD patients and medical people quickly control and treat VCD (stop each attack), during and between attacks? (includes "VCD attack SURVIVAL GUIDE"). Also listed are some life-threatening VCD "mimics" (that have symptoms similar to VCD).

5. What are some causes of VCD, triggers of VCD, aggravators of VCD (that make VCD worse), and associated conditions that may pre-dispose people to develop VCD? (All are mixed together on this webpage 5, since it's sometimes hard to tell them apart).

6. Can VCD/laryngospasms be prevented or cured, or controlled?

7. What medical centers, etc., know a lot about VCD? This includes National Jewish Medical & Research Center, in Denver, Colorado.

8. What VCD Conferences are available, for medical professionals and allied health professionals? I update this webpage 8, as I learn about upcoming medical (VCD) conferences. Let me know if YOU know of any upcoming VCD conferences, too!

9. References: medical journal articles, books, internet web links, personal communication with physicians, anesthesiologists, speech pathologists & VCD patients, and others. Also please click on the "links webpage" below, for more references.

10. VCD support for patients, family, friends, medical people & others. ALSO, tips (ideas & suggestions) that may help cure VCD (ask doctor first):
APPENDIX B: Some GASTRIC REFLUX TIPS for adults & children;
APPENDIX C: Some PEDIATRIC REFLUX TIPS for infants with colic, reflux, etc.
APPENDIX D: Some ERGONOMICS TIPS (body position when using computer, driving, etc.)

APPENDIX E: (added in 2007): Some GLUTEN-FREE (g-f) EATING TIPS (plus how to temporarily avoid milk proteins, corn proteins, soy proteins, etc.)
APPENDIX F: (added in 2007): Some TOTAL DIARY TIPS (keep daily journal for at least a week. Includes doing "scavenger hunt" using webpage 5, to help add to "total diary")

LINKS webpage:  References: internet web links. (Also see webpage 9.)

DISCLAIMER: The information in this website is not intended to diagnose you. Call (911 or 0, etc.) for an ambulance, or go to an Emergency Room, IMMEDIATELY, for any breathing problems! Then, please see web-page 4, for "VCD Attack SURVIVAL GUIDE".

The information in this website comes from the experiences of many patients (some diagnosed with VCD/laryngospasms, and some not yet diagnosed), from doctors, (see below for descriptions of specialist doctors), nurses, speech pathologists, respiratory therapists, medical journal articles, books, VCD patients, VCD Conferences, etc.  As I learn more information, I add it to this website. 

After being seen in an Emergency Room, you may need to go to one or several types of doctors, speech pathologists, and others, to help you get FULLY and ACCURATELY diagnosed: your primary care doctor, a Pulmonologist (Lung specialist doctor), an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat specialist doctor, especially a LARYNGOLOGIST-- who specializes in Voice, vocal cord, throat problems, etc.), a Gastroenterologist (Digestive specialist doctor), an Allergist (Allergy specialist doctor), a doctor who is a specialist in Environmental & Occupational Health, a Neurologist (Nerves & brain specialist doctor), an Endocrinologist for thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, etc., a Respiratory Therapist, a SLP (speech & language pathologist), Gynecologist (for possible female problems), Urologist (for possible male problems), a Cardiologist (heart doctor), an Anesthesiologist (to prevent a "laryngospasm" during or right after an operation/surgery), &/or additional kinds of specialists (doctors, etc.). 

This may include speaking with each doctor, etc., getting examined (including by an ENT doctor and speech pathologist, directly looking at vocal cords, during a "laryngoscopy" exam), having medical tests done &/or prescribed, and learning about treatment choices (options), etc., described by each doctor, etc.

It was not easy for my husband and me to get the VCD correctly diagnosed: 

In 1998, my husband went to several Emergency Rooms, where no doctor had any idea of what he really had. He was misdiagnosed as possibly having asthma, or midlife crisis, or panic attacks. Finally, after about a week of very frequent VCD attacks, a Pulmonologist (lung specialist doctor) suspected VCD, and recommended that my husband go to National Jewish Medical & Research Center, in Denver, Colorado (see webpage 7), where he was quickly diagnosed with VCD, that same day, in 1998. (One of my husband's diagnosing doctors at National Jewish, had a cast on his ankle. I asked why. He answered, "That damned CIPRO!", meaning that the ANTIBIOTIC called "Cipro" had broken (destroyed) his achilles tendon, as a horrible side effect! My husband first, in 2019, and now, in 2020, is wondering if the Cipro that he himself had taken for an infection, might have contributed to his getting VCD! For this reason, I am including 2 links about the DANGEROUS side effects of the antibiotic called Cipro: https://www.amazon.com/How-Halt-Cipro-Levaquin-Catastrophe/dp/1518626866/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8#customerReviews

AND https://amyknichols.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/how-levaquin-tried-to-kill-me-but-i-fought-back/

I strongly urge any patient to AVOID taking Cipro or any related "Fluoro-Quinolone" antibiotic, unless one is "at death's door"!!!

Instead: Ask your doctor for a SAFER antibiotic, if an antibiotic is really needed!!!


A Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) at Nat'l Jewish taught my husband how to do the special speech therapy (see webpage 4) that stops most VCD attacks, the same day he was diagnosed, and he was told to work on improving his sinus condition. Then, we began the tedious but necessary work of figuring out all (or most of) my husband’s underlying causes of his VCD. 

Doing this helped me to discover the SINUS TIPS, and the GASTRIC REFLUX TIPS, (see Appendix A & B, on webpage 10), which resulted in my husband quickly conquering his VCD, in 1998. He has had no more VCD attacks, since that year (1998), including up to now (2020), which means about 22 years of being free from VCD attacks.

In 2000, I first had VCD attacks (during a severe case of bronchitis). After many misdiagnoses at Emergency Rooms, I also went to Nat’l Jewish, and was quickly diagnosed with VCD. VCD is not “catching”, but, it is common. Each person’s list of VCD causes is unique to that person. Using the SINUS TIPS, and the GASTRIC REFLUX TIPS, helped me to also quickly control my VCD, back in 2000, which in my case, may have been due to  a "post viral vagal neuropathy", since my bronchitis was viral.

After we both learned how to immediately stop any VCD attack, I created this free VCD website, in 2001, to help others of all ages, whose VCD hasn’t yet been diagnosed. No one should suffer one minute longer than necessary, with this frightening and sometimes dangerous ailment.

My husband, who had "exercise-related" VCD, and also VCD at rest, has had no more VCD attacks for about 22 years, 

I now (2020) have almost no more VCD attacks, except for the very rare VCD attack due to my swallowing something, such as saliva, or food, or liquid, "the wrong way", causing normal "choking", that in my case (and in others who may be "pre-disposed" to have VCD attacks) leads to a VCD attack, or, from "burping" (gas or liquid) due to having an episode of "high up", silent (no heartburn) gastric reflux, known as "regurgitation" (technically called LPR/Laryngeal Pharyngeal Reflux, where "laryngeal" means voice box/larynx, and "pharyngeal" means throat, and "reflux" means liquid rising up from the stomach, the wrong way).

These days (spring 2020), when I have an occasional VCD attack (also known as LARYNGO-SPASM), to immediately stop the VCD / LARYNGO-SPASM attack, I use the "LARSON MANEUVER", described at the bottom of webpage 4. Here's a link to webpage 4: http://cantbreathesuspectvcd.com/page4.html


For anyone who knows a COVID-19 VIRUS patient who is "intubated" with a breathing tube ("endo-tracheal" tube), who is also on a special breathing machine (respirator), YOU CAN LEARN THE "LARSON MANEUVER", which you can teach to the Covid-19 virus patient's caregivers, so that when the patient is ready to be "extubated" (have their breathing tube/ endo-tracheal tube REMOVED, they can PREVENT &/OR TREAT A "LARYNGOSPASM" (VCD ATTACK) that REMOVAL of the endotracheal tube sometimes causes! Call me, if you'd like me to teach the maneuver to you, by phone. Check with patient's doctors to be sure that there are no "contra-indications" to them using the Larson / Laryngospasm Maneuver".


If you would like to speak by phone, or send me an email, I will be happy to try to help you or whoever has or might have VCD, to conquer it, as quickly and as easily as possible, by suggesting medical sources (doctors and speech pathologists) in your area, who know about VCD, and by answering your questions about what is in my website.

This is a free website, meaning there is NO CHARGE, for my trying to help you or any possible VCD patient.

Although I am not a medical doctor (MD), I am a former RN/registered nurse, with many years of experience dealing holistically with various ailments, including conquering my husband's and my previous VCD attacks (and helping many, many others to conquer their VCD). The advice I can give you, is not medical advice--it is practical advice. The practical advice can help you to make a plan, about what you can try doing (and not doing), and also includes seeing various VCD-knowledgable specialist doctors, to be safe, and to get fully and accurately diagnosed, and correctly treated for your specific situation. 

You can telephone me at 970-726-4440. If I am not home, call my older cell phone (970-531-5000) or my newer cell phone (970-509-9732). Leave a message with your phone numbers, if I can't answer the phone right away. My email was fsds@rkymtnhi.com, but stopped working on Tues. 6/22/2021. Please use my NEW email, that is cjsidofsky@hotmail.com . If I am away from the computer, and cannot answer your email, you can call me. Again, leave a message, if I can't answer the phone, when you call. 

Remember, for ANY BREATHING PROBLEMS, I urge you to get emergency medical help, right away, to be safe! 


I also recommend a very helpful "facebook" page about LARYNGOSPASMS (another name for VCD, namely, Vocal Cord Dysfunction), that a VCD patient told me about recently (2020). To join this group, "google" the following: Facebook, laryngospasms. Apply to be accepted into the group, and start posting, and reading others' posts.

You are now at the bottom of the "home page" web-page. Please read web-page 1, next.

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