Dyspnea Due to Vocal Cord Dysfunction and Other Laryngeal Sources

Mark T. O'Hollaren, MD

Disclosures

August 26, 2002

In This Article

The Amazing Larynx

The larynx is a very complex and extremely important anatomic region that functions to join the airway and the superior portion of the gastrointestinal tract. Its sphincteric capabilities allow protection of the airway, prevent aspiration of fluid and food particles during swallowing, and also protect against aspiration of any potential foreign material when it enters the larynx during respiration. During swallowing, the airway closes naturally, and will close involuntarily with stimulation of the pharynx. The automatic reflex will take precedence over all voluntary controls of laryngeal function. To facilitate vocal communication, an elaborate mechanism of vocal cord vibration/oscillation is coordinated with movements of the tongue and mouth. For further information on the voice and vocal disorders, the reader is referred to an elegant summary by Cohn and colleagues.[1]

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