- With Mayo Clinic asthma and allergy specialist
James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.read biographyclose window
James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.James Li, M.D.
"People with allergy or asthma can lead full and healthy lives." — Dr. James Li
Dr. James Li is chair of the Division of Allergic Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine and a board-certified asthma and allergy specialist. He hopes his expertise and the information on the site educates health care consumers in an area of rapid change both in medications and diagnoses.
"There are a lot of misperceptions about allergy and asthma," says Dr. Li, a New York City native who has been with Mayo since 1985 and works with a group of subspecialists in allergy, asthma and immunology. "I believe it's important to provide truthful, accurate information about allergy and asthma to the public. The more people know, the better they can take care of these conditions."
Dr. Li is a professor of medicine at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. He's a past director of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, and the American Board of Internal Medicine. He's a fellow in the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology honored him with the Distinguished Service Award, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology with its Special Recognition Award.
Tests and diagnosis (1)
- Reactive airway disease: Is it asthma?
- Asthma and acid reflux: Are they linked?
Treatments and drugs (2)
- LABAs for asthma — Should I stop taking them?
- Albuterol side effects: What's normal?
Lifestyle and home remedies (3)
- Ozone air purifiers: Can they improve asthma symptoms?
- Asthma diet: Does what you eat make a difference?
- Asthma: Why are symptoms worse during my period?
- Hygiene hypothesis: Early germ exposure prevents asthma?
Vocal cord dysfunction: Is it a type of asthma?
What's the difference between vocal cord dysfunction and asthma?
from James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.
Both asthma and vocal cord dysfunction can make breathing difficult. Signs and symptoms of either condition can include coughing, wheezing, throat tightness and hoarseness, but they're two separate disorders.
Vocal cord dysfunction is the abnormal closing of the vocal cords when you breathe in or out. It's also called laryngeal dysfunction or paradoxical vocal cord motion. As with asthma, breathing in lung irritants, having an upper respiratory infection or exercising may trigger vocal cord dysfunction symptoms. However, unlike asthma, vocal cord dysfunction isn't an immune system reaction and doesn't involve the lower airways. Treatment for the two conditions also is different.
Your doctor may suspect vocal cord dysfunction rather than asthma if:
- It's harder to breathe in than breathe out when symptoms flare up
- Asthma medications don't seem to ease your symptoms
- Results of breathing (pulmonary function) tests or other tests for asthma are normal
- Your symptoms are not due to a respiratory infection alone, something in your airways or another health problem
Because they have similar triggers and symptoms, it's common for vocal cord dysfunction to be misdiagnosed as asthma. This can lead to use of asthma medications that don't help and cause side effects. Some people have both vocal cord dysfunction and asthma, and require treatment for both conditions.Next question
Trouble breathing: Could it be asthma?
- Balkissoon RC, et al. Disorders of the upper airways. In: Mason RJ. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2005. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-4710-0..00043-2--s0210&isbn=978-1-4160-4710-0&uniqId=257622106-3#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-4710-0..00043-2--s0210. Accessed June 9, 2011.
- Saxon KG, et al. Paradoxical vocal cord motion. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 9, 2011.