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.