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Have you been plagued by a chronic tickle cough that doesn’t ever seem to go away, no matter what remedies you’ve tried? Does it sometimes feel like you can’t take a breath in, or that your throat is closing? You’re coughing so often, people are asking you all the time, “Are you STILL sick?”  But you’re NOT sick. It’s just THAT COUGH!! You’ve tried cough medicine, lozenges, meditation, a slew of doctors, and nothing has helped. In fact, there may be medical professionals who are telling you that’s it’s all in your head. Talk about frustrating! This condition might not be life-threatening, but it sure can affect your QUALITY of life. 

Finally, if you’re lucky, you’ve found an ENT or pulmonologist who actually pinpointed what you have, and the terms they used sound as scary as the condition: vocal cord dysfunction or VCD, irritable larynx syndrome, paradoxical vocal fold motion disorder or PVFM, or simply tickle cough. Hopefully, they’ve also told you how you can solve this vexing problem: see a voice therapist or speech-language pathologist with expertise in specialized respiratory retraining techniques. 

This short but powerful video we created looks at the symptoms and causes of irritable larynx syndrome and vocal cord dysfunction, and gives you two easy-to-implement respiratory retraining techniques you can start using right away to get some relief. 

On a personal note: I realize now I experienced this frightening VCD scenario way back in my teens and early twenties, at a time when I didn’t know anything about this disorder. I felt my throat close in reaction to working with some irritating chemicals, including sulfur, back in high school chemistry. And I used to go into coughing spasms and a wheezing feeling every time I ate something cold quickly, like a frozen dessert. If only I knew then what I know now about how to stop those symptoms. 

And then it happened again at the gym a few years back. I reacted to fresh flowers in the ladies’ dressing room at the gym. I guess it was triggered by an allergic reaction, but that tickle cough started and wouldn’t stop. Now, those who know me know that NOTHING stops me from working out. So, I got on that treadmill and patiently did nice quiet rescue breathing for a few minutes, and the cough stopped. I repeated the breathing techniques as I got ready to go back into the dressing room post-workout. And…no tickle cough! I didn’t even need allergy medication. I was convinced! These techniques are truly effective! I believe in them…and now, so will you 😊

Bonus: these breathing techniques may also help to stop a bout of hiccups. I taught them to a hiccupping fellow patron in my favorite sushi place a few years ago, after everyone else had given her less-effective ideas. I introduced myself as a voice therapist and showed her the rescue breathing exercises. Her hiccups stopped almost immediately! …OK, so she didn’t send us over a platter of sushi in gratitude, but nonetheless, I helped a fellow human being to feel better! 



Karen Sussman, MA, CCC-SLP, the founder and Director of the Professional Voice Care Center, received her training in rescue breathing techniques from experts at the world-renowned center for respiratory diseases, National Jewish Health in Denver, CO.  Read about their work with vocal cord dysfunction here. Watch their video to understand more about vocal cord dysfunction.


Hopefully, for those of you with chronic tickle cough or symptoms of vocal cord dysfunction, you’ll now be breathing a little easier!

Call (516) 433-1822 or click here to schedule your intake session today at Professional Voice Care Center. Together, we’ll get your voice back to speaking and singing the way it was meant to!



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