What is a laryngospasm?

Laryngospasm consists of aspasm of the glottis, which causes temporary obstruction of the flow of oxygen to the lungs, specifically in the vocal cords (two bands whose edges are attached to the muscles of the larynx located in the trachea), which causes a difficulty in the patient’s breathing. (1)

To enter into context, the spasm according to theRoyal Spanish Academy, is the involuntary contraction of the muscles, usually produced by reflex mechanism”. (2)

Note: Laryngospasmsusually have normal airflow on exhalation, but inhalation is when air enters the lungs is difficult.

Why does laryngospasm occur?

There is a diversity of events for whicha laryngospasm can occur, which we mention below:

1. Gastric reflux and respiratory infections

One of the causes in the appearance of laryngospasms is gastric reflux that occurs whenacidor bile ascends through the esophagus irritating its walls.

In this sense, in patients suffering from this condition, small drops of this stomach acid mayhave contact with the vocal cords, causing a spasmodic response of the larynx or laryngospasm, closing the flow of oxygen to thelungs. (3)

To highlight: Also respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis among others, cause many coughs to expel phlegm from the lungs and in these circumstances a laryngospasm can occur.

2. Airway surgery and anesthetic drugs

Likewise, when drugs are used for anesthesia in various medical procedures, it can cause the laryngospasm reflex, especially in the pediatric population . (4)

3. Asthma, anxiety and COPD

People who have recurrent asthma, suffer from states of anxiety or suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) , may suffer from an episode of laryngospasm , so preventive measures must be the strategy to use.

What to do in case of laryngospasm?

In the possible presence of an episode of laryngospasm, it is important to follow some of the following recommendations:

1. Keep calm and relax

Taking into consideration that Most of the Spasms in the Vocal Cords in the vocal cords are temporary and if the obstruction is partial, what is recommended for the person in these cases is to remain calm and relax until the vocal cords recover their mobility, even if the situation is difficult. maddening.

2. Take an antacid

As a preventive measure, in the case of people who frequently suffer from gastric reflux, it is recommended to take antacids to reduce this type of eventand thus avoid the appearance of spasms in the vocal cords.

3. Perform breathing exercises

If the patient recognizes that the episodes of laryngospasm are recurrent, it is recommended that they learn about relaxation techniques and breathing exercises .

You should know: This will help you stay calm while the vocal cords regain their mobility or specialized help arrives.

4. Administer drugs and perform airway pressure in severe cases

In those urgent cases, where the general health of the patient may be at stake, drugs should be administered depending on the condition presented and maneuvers performed on the respiratory tract, to somehow maintain the flow of air in the lungs. (5)

Important: This type of intervention must be performed by a doctor or by people with extensive experience in these manoeuvres.

Key Findings

  • Laryngospasm is a spasm of the glottis , which causes temporary obstruction of the flow of oxygen to the lungs.
  • In laryngospasm, the vocal cords contract involuntarily, preventing the inhalation of oxygen.
  • The most common causes of laryngospasm are gastric reflux , anesthesia, and upper respiratory tract surgery.
  • Laryngospasm must be treated immediately by specialized medical personnel.

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