Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Laryngospasm: Sudden, Terrifying Difficulty Breathing

 Another one of the joys of living with Kennedy's Disease are these freaky things that happen to some of us. I have written about this subject several times over the years because when it happens, you feel you might die.

Q: I heard someone mention “Dry Drowning.” What is that and do I have to be concerned that this could happen to me?

A: Dry drowning or laryngospasm is a common occurrence for many of with Kennedy’s Disease. It is the result of a spasm in the adductor muscles - the muscles closing or bringing the vocal folds together. Laryngospasm happens when your voice box or the area of the windpipe below the voice box detect the entry of water or another substance. The vocal folds spasm and the airway shuts down. All of us have experienced it when a bug flies down your throat while you were starting to inhale, or you inhale a glass of water. The vocal cords very immediately and very effectively close. That closure is a benefit to protect the airway, but it makes “breathing in”, very difficult. The throat muscles weaken (atrophy) in a person with Kennedy’s Disease. Because of this, it becomes more difficult to swallow or clear the throat.

Eric, on Facebook, posted the link to the video below. I thought it was terrific. It not only explains, it also show you, what happens during one of these spasms.

The key message I given to me by my doctor was try not to panic. Worst case scenario is that I might pass out (wasn’t comforting news at the time). He explained I need to relax a little and not fight it (difficult to do when you can’t get your breath).

Fortunately, I haven’t had many episodes over the last few years.

If you’ve experienced this spasm, watch the YouTube video (link below) and discuss it with your doctor.

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