Speech and language therapists are specialists in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of upper airway disorders. These include inducible laryngeal obstruction and chronic cough. Specialised speech and language therapy is evidenced as effective for people with these conditions.
Inducible laryngeal obstruction
Inducible laryngeal obstruction (ILO) is the term used to describe inappropriate closure of the larynx during breathing. It can look and feel like asthma, and is also very common in people with asthma. ILO attacks usually come on suddenly, often in response to a trigger, and can cause symptoms of respiratory distress. ILO can be very debilitating and requires specialist assessment to support accurate diagnosis.
Speech and language therapists contribute to ILO diagnosis. The gold standard treatment for ILO is speech and language therapy. Therapy aims to teach patients how to control ILO and understand reversal techniques. These include specialised breathing exercises and education to empower patients to gain better control of their upper airway.
When a cough lasts more than 8 weeks it is defined as ‘chronic cough.’ A systematic approach to diagnosis and treatment can be successful but cough can remain in up to 20% of patients with no identifiable cause. Persistent cough causes significant negative physical, psychological and social impact.
Speech and language therapists contribute to assessment and provide non-medical treatment for cough control. Therapy sessions include giving techniques to voluntarily control cough and reduce irritations in the throat. Therapy can occur in combination with drug treatments.
It is vital therapy does not commence until a patient has been seen and diagnosed with a chronic cough by a respiratory physician.
- RCSLT position paper: The role of speech and language therapy in upper airway disorders within adult respiratory services (PDF)