Stridor is an abnormal, high-pitched, musical breathing sound caused by a blockage in the throat or voice box (larynx). It is usually heard when taking in a breath.
Breathing sounds – abnormal; Extrathoracic airway obstruction
Children are at higher risk of airway blockage because they have narrower airways than adults. In young children, stridor is a sign of airway blockage and must be treated right away to prevent total airway obstruction.
The airway can be blocked by an object, swelling of the tissues of the throat or upper airway, or spasm of the airway muscles or the vocal cords.
Common causes of stridor include:
Abscesson the tonsils
- Airway injury
Allergic reaction Croup
- Diagnostic tests such as
bronchoscopyor laryngoscopy Epiglottitis, inflammation of the cartilage that covers the trachea (windpipe)
- Inhaling an object such as a peanut or marble (
foreign body aspiration) Laryngitis
- Neck surgery
- Use of a breathing tube for a long time
- Secretions such as phlegm (sputum)
- Smoke inhalation or other inhalation injury
- Swelling of the neck or face
- Swollen tonsils or adenoids (such as with
tonsillitis) Vocal cord cancer
Follow your doctor’s advice to treat the cause of the problem.
Call your health care provider if
Stridor may be a sign of an emergency. Call your health care provider right away if there is unexplained stridor, especially in a child.
What to expect at your health care provider’s office
In an emergency, the health care provider will check the person’s temperature, pulse, breathing rate, blood pressure, and may need to do the
A breathing tube may be needed if the person can’t breathe properly.
After the person is stable, the health care worker may ask questions about the patient’s medical history, and perform a
Parents or caregivers may be asked the following medical history questions:
Is the abnormal breathing a high-pitched sound?
- Did the breathing problem start suddenly?
- Could the child have put something in the mouth?
- Has the child been ill recently?
- Is the child’s neck or face swollen?
- Has the child been coughing or complaining of a sore throat?
- What other symptoms does the child have? (For example,
nasal flaringor bluish color to the skin, lips, or nails)
- Is the child using chest muscles to breathe (
Tests that may be done include:
Arterial blood gas analysis Bronchoscopy CT scan, thoracic Laryngoscopy(examination of the voice box)
- Pulse oximetry to measure blood oxygen level
X-ray of the chestor neck