Sleep-related laryngospasm refers to laryngospasm during sleep that can be terrifying for the patient.


The patient presents with a history of waking up from sleep with respiratory distress and a choking sensation.


The patient may have:

(1) stridorous breathing

(2) panic

(3) tachycardia


The episodes often last less than a minute.


Many patients have gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) with the acid triggering the spasm. In these patients treatment of the reflux disease resolves the laryngospasm.


Differential diagnosis:

(1) severe asthma with bronchospasm

(2) food or other allergy with angioedema

(3) viral infection

(4) bacterial infection including diphtheria

(5) aspiration


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