Vocal cord dysfunction in former World Trade Center (WTC) rescue and recovery workers and volunteers.
ABSTRACT Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is a condition characterized by paradoxical partial adduction of the vocal cords on inspiration. It has been associated with exposures to irritants, as well as with psychological illnesses and conditions. Workers who participated in the recovery of the WTC disaster site were exposed to a large amount of irritants as well as considerable psychological stressors. We describe the clinical characteristics of 10 symptomatic former WTC workers diagnosed with this condition, as well as the frequency of spirometric findings suggestive of variable extrathoracic obstruction.
Workers who became symptomatic after their WTC work experience have been evaluated clinically by a multidisciplinary team at an academic medical center. The evaluation included history, physical examination, chest radiograph, blood tests, and pre- and post-bronchodilator spirometry in all patients. Additional evaluations and diagnostic tests included otolaryngological evaluation with flexible rhinolaryngoscopy and stroboscopy, gastroenterological and psychiatric evaluations. A randomly selected sample of 172 spirometry results were reviewed for evidence of inspiratory flow limitation.
Variable extrathoracic obstruction was found in 18.6% of the spirometries. Ten patients were diagnosed with VCD. In addition to symptoms suggestive of co-morbid conditions (particularly rhinitis and acid reflux disease), most of the 10 patients had (1) hoarseness, (2) dyspnea that was not associated with bronchial hyperreactivity, or (3) dyspnea associated with asthma, with either mild bronchial hyperreactivity and/or poor response to asthma treatment.
VCD appears to be part of the spectrum of airway disorders caused by occupational exposures at the WTC disaster site. Further study of this association is warranted.
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ABSTRACT: Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is the intermittent paradoxical adduction of the vocal cords during respiration, resulting in variable upper airway obstruction. Exposure to damp indoor environments is associated with adverse respiratory health outcomes, including asthma, but its role in the development of VCD is not well described. We describe the spectrum of respiratory illness in occupants of 2 water-damaged office buildings. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted a health hazard evaluation that included interviews with managers, a maintenance officer, a remediation specialist who had evaluated the 2 buildings, employees, and consulting physicians. In addition, medical records and reports of building evaluations were reviewed. Diagnostic evaluations for VCD had been conducted at the Asthma and Allergy Center of the Medical College of Wisconsin. Two cases of VCD were temporally related to occupancy of water-damaged buildings. The patients experienced cough, chest tightness, dyspnea, wheezing, and hoarseness when in the buildings. Spirometry was normal. Methacholine challenge did not show bronchial hyperreactivity but did elicit symptoms of VCD and inspiratory flow-volume loop truncation. Direct laryngoscopy revealed vocal cord adduction during inspiration. Coworkers developed upper and lower respiratory symptoms; their diagnoses included sinusitis and asthma, consistent with recognized effects of exposure to indoor dampness. Building evaluations provided evidence of water damage and mold growth. VCD can occur with exposure to water-damaged buildings and should be considered in exposed patients with asthma-like symptoms.The journal of allergy and clinical immunology in practice. 01/2013; 1(1):46-50.
Article: Work-related laryngeal syndromes.[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: This review summarizes recent literature regarding the association of nonorganic laryngeal dysfunction with occupational exposures. Laryngeal dysfunction may masquerade as asthma and is an important consideration in patients with work-associated respiratory symptoms. Although there is lack of consensus regarding clinical features, vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) is the most well appreciated form of nonorganic laryngeal dysfunction. There are significant gaps in the literature regarding the occupational epidemiology of laryngeal dysfunction, however, occupational exposures such as upper airway irritants may be associated with the onset of symptoms. Recurrent work-associated laryngeal dysfunction has been described in occupational groups including the military and professional athletes. Recent theories have considered that VCD may be a state of laryngeal hyperresponsiveness associated with both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Laryngeal dysfunction is an important consideration in patients with work-associated respiratory symptoms. Clinicians should have a high index of suspicion, in particular, if symptoms are associated with exposure to a respiratory irritant. Situations of high psychological stress may also be associated with recurrent symptoms. There is a requirement for evidence-based guidelines for the diagnosis and management of laryngeal dysfunction, which should also address work-related factors.Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology 04/2012; 12(2):95-101. · 3.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Cough is a nonspecific and relatively common symptom that can present difficulties in diagnosis and management, particularly when it is reported to be associated with the workplace. The present consensus document, prepared by a taskforce of the Interest Group on Occupational Allergy of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology by means of a nonsystematic review of the current literature, is intended to provide a definition and classification of work-related chronic cough (WRCC) to assist the daily practice of physicians facing with this symptom. The review demonstrates that several upper and lower airway work-related diseases may present with chronic cough; hence, the possible link with the workplace should always be considered. Due to the broad spectrum of underlying diseases, a multidisciplinary approach is necessary to achieve a definite diagnosis. Nevertheless, more epidemiological studies are necessary to estimate the real prevalence and risk factors for WRCC, the role of exposure to environmental and occupational sensitizers and irritants in its pathogenesis and the interaction with both upper and lower airways. Finally, the best management option should be evaluated in order to achieve the best outcome without adverse social and financial consequences for the worker.Allergy 01/2014; · 6.00 Impact Factor