Stridor refers to a high-pitched but audible wheezing sound sometimes heard during breathing if the airflow is forced through a narrowed air passage. It’s quite common and considered a serious symptom. Stridor is sometimes called musical breathing or an extra-thoracic obstruction of the airway. Usually, the airflow disruption occurs in the voice box or larynx, or windpipe. This condition occurs in children more often than in adults.
Coughing, Drooling, and Vomiting
When a child swallows a foreign object, you may start to hear the stridor breath sounds. This is especially true when the object gets lodged in the upper portion of the airways. Some common symptoms of stridor are coughing, drooling, and vomiting. When these symptoms occur, it means that the obstruction of the airway is already affecting the child’s breathing. Therefore, the first treatment is to supply oxygen to the child as needed. Then you have to locate the object and identify what it is. You can do this through an imaging test such as an x-ray. If you can’t take out the object manually, the child may need to undergo surgery.
Stridor Sounds in Infants
A common symptom you may notice in infants is the occurrence of stridor breathing sounds. You’ll notice this symptom when the tissues surrounding the larynx collapse. It’s common in newborns even if they don’t have any other health concerns. The stridor sound manifests as a rapid and low-pitched sound you’ll hear as the baby breathes in. Usually, the condition may develop some time after birth. In most cases, it doesn’t require treatment since it goes away as the baby matures. By the time the baby reached 18 months, the symptom may have already disappeared. If not, then it’s important to consult with a doctor and have your baby checked.
Paralyzed Vocal Cords in Infants
Stridor may also manifest as paralyzed vocal cords. When an infant has stridor, consult with a neonatologist or pediatrician. Such doctors may check for neurological diseases or heart defects. These may be the cause of the paralysis which is exceptionally life-threatening. If you notice this symptom, then you should bring your baby to the doctor for different tests. If the results don’t show other reasons for the baby’s stridor, then you may not have to worry. The air passages would probably be the cause of the issue.
Dysfunction of the Vocal Cords
Another symptom of stridor is a dysfunction of the vocal cords. This is also one of the main reasons why you’ll hear the breath sounds in adults. When there’s dysfunction of the vocal cords occurs, it means that parts of it stop functioning correctly. This causes a blockage in the upper airway, which causes stridor. Since the primary cause of this is usually stress, then you have different options for treatment. These include avoiding stressors, counseling, and learning breathing techniques.
Swelling of the Upper Airway
Swelling of the upper airway is another common symptom of stridor. This can occur because of a trauma or an injury to the neck or airway. Either that or an object gets stuck in the throat or nose. This symptom can also appear because of smoke inhalation or from swallowing a toxic substance. If you’re suffering from this symptom and you think it indicates stridor, seek professional help. Your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. This specialist may give you an injection or an oral medication which will help decrease the swelling. In more severe cases, you may need neck surgery to remove the obstruction.
One symptom of stridor to look out for is difficulty in breathing. When you inhale a foreign object, and you experience this, consider it as an emergency. Seek out medical care immediately if you start experiencing any breathing difficulties. This is especially true if you or the patient is already turning blue or has lost consciousness. There are some cases though when you can consult with a doctor even on a non-emergency basis. Do this when the stridor occurs alongside other symptoms like fever.
Unusual Breathing Noises
If you hear unusual breathing noises, this could also be an indication of stridor. Doctors usually listen to the breathing sounds of patients to estimate the location of the airway obstruction. When it comes to breathing, there are different factors that doctors may consider. These include the frequency of the sound, the presence of other symptoms, and more. Sometimes, it’s difficult for doctors to differentiate between wheezing and stridor. This is especially true for children. But careful examination and an evaluation of the patient’s breathing history can be beneficial. These will allow the doctors to determine the actual condition. Then they can administer the appropriate treatment.
Bacterial Infection Caused Due to Inflammation
Someone suffering from stridor may also experience inflammation caused by a bacterial infection. You may notice the inflammation at the top of the throat or the back of the mouth. When a bacteria or virus is the cause of the inflammation, you may need a different approach. The inflammation of the tissues covering your windpipe can be an indication of stridor. A specific type of bacteria usually causes this called H. influenza bacteria. For treatment, you may need to take antibiotics. This is the best and most efficient way to overcome the condition.
Mass in the Airways
Another symptom of stridor is the appearance of a mass in the airways. A child may have a subglottic haemangioma. This is s type of mass that mostly consists of blood vessels. This mass would develop quickly in the first few months of the child’s life. Then the symptom would appear when the child is 3-6 months old. In some cases, the child may outgrow the issue. The mass may start to shrink after the child’s first year of life. If this doesn’t happen, then the child may need to undergo surgery. This is especially true if the obstruction is already severe.
Our final symptom of stridor is a blocked trachea. In fact, there are some cases when a vein or an artery entirely blocks the trachea. This would cause the stridor and the other symptoms too. In such cases, the patient would need surgery to fix the problem. If you’re experiencing this symptom or any of the other symptoms of stridor, seek medical advice. This is the best thing to do rather than just waiting for the condition to go away on its own. Keep in mind that the treatment options would depend on the health and the age of the patient. Also, the treatment would depend on the severity of the condition.