Laryngospasm is a sudden reflexive closure of the larynx occurring when an individual is trying to breathe. It occurs more frequently in persons who have vocal cord paralysis or in those experiencing sensory neuropathic cough; it is also seen as an aftermath of an upper respiratory infection.
A typical laryngospasm episode begins abruptly and lasts approximately one minute. The individual often makes loud inspiratory noises, the loudness of which abates gradually over the first minute or two. The voice may be choked off during the same time, making it difficult to speak.
Laryngospasm is terrifying not only to the person experiencing it but also to family, friends, or strangers observing the episode. An attack may awaken its victim from sound sleep. Rarely, an individual will experience a series of laryngospasms, making it appear that they are having one much longer spasm.
Laryngospasm, Part I: Introduction
Dr. Bastian explains laryngospasm with video of the larynx and a simulated attack. You will hear the types of noises often made by the person experiencing it and see what the vocal folds are doing at the same time.
Laryngospasm, Part II: Straw Breathing
Laryngospasm is a sudden, often severe attack of difficulty breathing, typically lasting between 30 and 90 seconds. In this video, Dr. Bastian explains a simple procedure—straw breathing—that can be used by individuals suffering an attack.