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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is laryngospasm?

Laryngospasm is the tightening of the muscles that surround your vocal cords (larynx). This prevents air from getting into your lungs. Laryngospasm usually only lasts a few seconds and gets better on its own. Laryngospasm that does not improve on its own is a life-threatening emergency.

What causes laryngospasm?

The cause of laryngospasm may not be known. Tubes or instruments placed in your airway during surgery may cause laryngospasm. Laryngospasm may also happen when tubes are removed from your airway or stomach after surgery. The following may increase your risk for laryngospasm:

What are the signs and symptoms of laryngospasm?

How is laryngospasm treated?

Your healthcare provider may treat conditions that increase your risk for laryngospasm, such as acid reflux. A speech therapist may teach you breathing exercises to help prevent laryngospasm. A laryngospasm that becomes life-threatening may be treated with any of the following:

Have someone call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.