It seems with every year that passes, there are new promising treatments discovered for VCD. However, many of these treatments have not yet been put through controlled trials. Most publications cite speech therapy and psychological counseling as the first lines of treatment for VCD. Unfortunately, it’s hard for swimmers to use the breathing exercises prescribed by speech therapists in the case of exercise-induced VCD.

  • Speech Therapy (nose breathing, sipping air, pursed lip breathing, breathing through straw, diaphragmatic breathing). [2] We have done every type of speech therapy there is- office therapy sessions, and sessions at the pool. Nothing is able to reproduce the pressure of an actual swim meet, so it’s impossible for us to practice these breathing techniques when the VCD is actually happening in a controlled setting. We are going to try sprinting up a VERY steep hill by our house to see if we can induce the VCD outside of a swim meet (August 2014).
  • Atrovent, which is a bronchodialator used to treat asthma, but also has anti-chloinergic action, was tested and found to help exercise-induced VCD in 6 athletes. (Weinberger and Abu-Hasan 2007) Unfortunately, it did not help my swimmer enough to be able to continue to compete at the high level she was at before she was diagnosed with VCD.
  • Biofeedback was found to reduce muscle tension and lessen VCD symptoms. (Warnes, Allen et al. 2005) We are in the process of trying biofeedback sessions now (August 2014).
  • Amytriptaline (Elavil), tricyclic anti-depressant which appears to relieve insomnia and VCD at low, sub-therapeutic doses, also has anti-cholinergic action. (VA Varney, J Evans et al. 2009) We need to find out if doctors here have any experience with this option.
  • Psychological Counseling (Balkissoon 2011). We are in the process of starting sports psychology sessions (September 2014). It is thought that anxiety plays a role in VCD.
  • Respiratory trainer, or Power Lung, (Cohen 2010) Here is an example of an inspiratory muscle trainer. We have both a Power Lung and an inspiratory muscle trainer, and will use them regularly (August 2010).
  • Acid reflux treatments – Reflux irritates the larynx, follow low acid diet.
  • Allergy treatments – Post-nasal drip also irritates the larynx. Non-drowsy allergy meds and steroid nasal spray for allergy symptoms.
  • Eliminating mouth breathing – Mouth breathing dries out the vocal cords. Remember to breathe through nose when possible!
  • Staying hydrated – Keep the mucus from getting too thick. Drink water and possibly take expectorants.
  • Practicing your sport at race pace – Try to perform at race pace speeds while exercising to induce and learn to control VCD.