Diagnosing vocal cord dysfunction in young athletes

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To provide an overview of the pathophysiology, steps in making a diagnosis, differential diagnosis, and treatment methods for vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) in young athletes.

Data sources

Review of published literature about VCD and exercise-induced asthma (EIA) and a case study.


The clinical presentation of VCD is often confusing. A young athlete who is having difficulty “catching his breath” may have more than EIA. Young athletes who have been previously diagnosed with EIA may actually have VCD.

Implications for practice

The ability to correctly differentiate VCD from other causes of respiratory distress can lead to accurate interventions, save precious time in an acute situation, and promote long-term control of this condition.

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