Breathing problem sometimes misdiagnosed in athletes

Breathing problem sometimes misdiagnosed in athletes
Study finds vocal cord disorder can be confused with asthma.

(HealthDay)—A vocal cord problem that restricts athletes' breathing is often misdiagnosed as exercise-induced asthma, a small new study suggests.

Researchers looked at 46 who were newly diagnosed with paradoxical vocal fold motion disorder (PVFMD), a condition that can be brought on by stress, anxiety or increased exertion. It causes the vocal cords to constrict and obstruct breathing.

An estimated 5 percent of athletes have the disorder, which can severely affect their performance, according to the researchers at the Ohio State University Medical Center.

"There isn't a lot in the literature about PVFMD in , and our study shows that because of their high level of conditioning they may be more difficult to diagnose and treat than non-athletes," lead investigator Dr. Brad deSilva, residency program director for the department of otolaryngology—, said in a medical center news release.

For example, only 30 percent of the athletes in the study consistently experienced PVFMD symptoms, such as coughing during exercise.

"PVFMD symptoms can often mimic asthma, and as many as 40 percent of people with asthma also have PVFMD—so it's typical for an athlete to get the asthma diagnosed correctly, but not the vocal cord dysfunction," study co-author Dr. Anna Marcinow, a senior resident in the otolaryngology program in the College of Medicine, said in the news release.

The researchers also assessed a number of treatments for the vocal cord disorder, ranging from biofeedback to . Biofeedback is a technique that teaches people how to control their body's responses.

The investigators found that vocal cord retraining therapy helped reduce or eliminate breathing problems and allowed many athletes to stop using .

"Because PVFMD can have both physical and emotional impacts, using tactics that help athletes gain a sense of control over their breathing can be really effective," Marcinow said. "Athletes may also need additional alternative forms of therapy such as or intervention from a sports psychologist."

While the disorder often occurs in athletes who have recently intensified their activity and training, it can also occur in non-athletes who are starting a more demanding exercise program, the researchers noted.

The study was scheduled for presentation Friday at the annual meeting of the Triological Society, in Orlando, Fla. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has more about paradoxical vocal fold motion disorder.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

London smog may be tough on Olympians

Jul 26, 2012

(HealthDay) -- Air pollution may aggravate breathing problems among athletes with asthma or a related condition known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, an allergists' ...

Vocal cord dysfunction may be caused by work

Sep 06, 2007

Researchers from the UAB and the Vall d'Hebron Hospital have diagnosed two patients affected with vocal cord dysfunction, which causes coughing and difficulty in breathing due to irritating agents that are breathed in at ...

Recommended for you

Africa's uneven health care becomes easy prey for Ebola

2 hours ago

The disparity in African countries' ability to fight Ebola has left the continent fighting an uneven struggle against a disease that doesn't respect borders—yet relatively simple measures could help, experts say.

Ebola case stokes concerns for Liberians in Texas

3 hours ago

The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S. has been confirmed in a man who recently traveled from Liberia to Dallas, sending chills through the area's West African community whose leaders urged caution ...

Is Australia prepared for Ebola?

6 hours ago

Australia needs to be proactive about potential disease outbreaks like Ebola and establish a national centre for disease control.

Dallas hospital confirms first Ebola case in US

12 hours ago

A patient at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case of the disease to be diagnosed in the United States, federal health officials announced Tuesday.

User comments