Ever since I got out of the hospital for this last flare-up, Ive been noticing that when I take deep breaths in, I can hear (and feel) a slight inspiratory wheeze or airy sound coming from somewhere in my throat. More bothersome than the sound, I can actually feel some resistance as well. It feels like I’m breathing through a narrowed tube.

At first I thought that because I was weaning off the pred too fast, that my airways were rebelling by tightening up, but this sensation feels different than regular bronchospasm. Although very mild, it feels more like a permanent constricture in, or around the area of my vocal cords.

Well , after a week of trying to rule out possible causes, it finally dawned on me….. I probably have some kind of Tracheal Stenosis” or a vocal cord injury, related to my last intubation. I spoke with Dr W and she totally agreed with my assessment. An ENT doctor will have to look down my throat with a scope to confirm whether this is actually the problem, but I’m pretty confident it is. My only question is, is it my vocal cords that are jacked up, or is there some narrowing of the upper airway itself, and more important, can it be fixed?

From what little I know about this subject from working as an RT, Tracheal Stenosis is basically a narrowing of the trachea , either above or below the glottis, and is usually due to trauma caused when an Endotracheal tube is inserted in your windpipe ( Intubation).Although modern ET tubes are designed to be gentle on the airways, the physical presence of the breathing tube in your airway, can still cause damage and scarring to the surrounding tissue. The result, is swelling and/or thickening of that portion of the airway. The amount of time that the ET tube is in your airway is an important factor, as you’re more likely to develop a stenosis if you were intubated for a long period. But, that’s not always the case, especially when you’ve been intubated as many times as I have.

Up till now, this has been little more than an annoyance ,which only bothers me when I try to take a deep breath in. I am a little concerned however, that this could turn into a very serious problem the next time I have a major flare, so I just as soon get it checked and corrected as soon as possible.

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3 thoughts on “Tracheal Who?

  1. Sus says:

    Really sorry to hear this mate. But I do understand what it is you are talking about. I know someone who had the same condition-she noticed an inspiratory wheeze, and it turned out hers was stenosis caused by a lengthy period on a trach after her transplant. It has got better, you can't hear it now, although it was quite prominent at the time.

    I hope they can action something quickly for you-lucky you're seeing your Docs on Friday!
    Is your throat sore at all when you swallow down hard, deep in your throat? Can you actually feel anything, or just hear it? I'm interested that's all….

    Another weird and wonderful symptom in the learning curve that is Epic Steve's asthma….


    Sus xx

    PS Your blog is as high tech and epic as you-I can appreciate all the hard work and effort that goes into this, first hand now!

    1. Hi Sus! I’ve had a mild sore throat since the intubation, but during the last day or so, it’s gotten down right painful! (It doesn’t hurt down deep) Im not sure now, if it has something to do with the stenosis, or if I just have an old fashioned sore throat. One things for sure, there’s definitely a noticeable resistance when I take a breath in. My upper airway actually “fees” like it’s constricted.
      I have an appt on Friday with my primary care doc to get a referral to see an ENT.

      PS…One cool new law in California.. If you have “managed care ” type of medical insurance(like most people in California), doctors are required to see you within 10 business days of requesting an appt ( 15 days for a specialist) SO, the longest I would have to wait to be seen by an ENT would be about 3 weeks.

  2. Sus says:

    Yep, I've had plenty of deep sore throats post intubation, and a sort of inspiratory huskiness, stridor, feels like bruising, but not your sort of stenosis, scarring, thankfully.
    I really do wish you well

    Sus xx

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