Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Laryngospasm: It's often confused for a wheeze
So what is laryngospasm. It's a harsh (coarse) audible sound during expiration. It's the sound of air moving through secretions sitting around the vocal cords, so when the patient exhales it is made audible.
Frequently it's caused by pulmonary edema and heart failure. Sometimes it is caused due to dehydration, such as when a patient suffers from detox or ETOH.
Many times it gives the appearance of airway obstruction, because the patient has a prolonged, forced, expiratory phase. But when you ask these patients if they are short of breath they deny it. This is because they are not experiencing bronchospasm, and the sound is perhaps "annoying" but it is not a wheeze.
If you don't want to call it "laryngospasm" you can call it rhonchi. Rhonchi is the sound of air moving through secretions, and, more than likely, this is what you are hearing. But you are certainly not hearing a "bronchospasmic wheeze," because a bronchospasmic wheeze is never audible. Bronchioles are teeny tiny airways, and you cannot possibly hear a wheeze produced by bronchospasm without the aid of a stethoscope.