Laryngeal Spasm: What To Expect If It Happens To You

During a laryngeal spasm, your vocal cords suddenly seize or close when taking a breath, blocking airflow into the lungs. It often happens at night, with people waking up from a sound sleep unable to speak or breathe. It’s a frightening experience that usually goes away within a few minutes.

What Causes a Laryngeal Spasm?

Laryngeal spasms are commonly associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). With these conditions, stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and causes irritation. When this happens regularly, the damage can reach the larynx and lead to vocal cord spasms. Other causes include:

  • Asthma and allergies
  • Irritants, such as smoke and fumes
  • Surgical complications
  • Stress and anxiety

To identify the underlying cause of your laryngeal spasm, your SFENTA™ physician will examine your vocal cords for abnormalities, dysfunction and signs of GERD. Based on your exam findings, he or she will offer treatment recommendations to prevent future episodes.

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Treatment: A Blend of Medication and Lifestyle Changes

Preventing additional laryngeal spasms will involve treating the underlying cause of your symptoms.

In most cases, this will involve a combination of the following:

  • Prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors to reduce the production of stomach acids
  • Avoiding heartburn triggers, such as caffeine, fatty foods and chocolate
  • Eating smaller and more frequent meals
  • Raising the head of your bed
  • Avoiding smoke and alcohol
  • Avoiding allergens
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