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Lung diseases

Shortness of Breath

03/16/2010

Question:

My son has been getting short winded when running hard or sometimes even talking too long. Along with being short winded, he would get pain and dryness in his throat when running too hard. He also has a constant clearing of throat and dry cough. Once in a while if running too hard, he would also feel like he is going to pass out. He just had a treadmill exercise PFT lung function test which looked good on the lung function but he got very short winded and he said he had the pain and dryness in his throat. He is also due to get a Methacholine Challenge Test soon as well. My question is if the lung function on the test looks good as far as the numbers, what does it mean if he is getting the above symptoms. Can a person have Asthma or Exercised induced asthma and still the lung function numbers be good? Or, could there be something going on with his throat like narrowing or vocal cord issues or something else. If this helps, he was also born 12 weeks premature and is currently 13 years old and has not had any problems with breathing until recently.

Answer:

Excellent question, vocal cord dysfunction is the most common mimic of exercise-induced asthma. Your son's symptoms are suggestive of this problem given the fact he had tightness in his throat and was symptomatic despite having normal lung function. I would recommend being evaluated for vocal cord dysfunction.

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Response by:

Jonathan P Parsons, MD, MSc Jonathan P Parsons, MD, MSc
Clinical Associate Professor
Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University