THROAT - Stridor

What is stridor?

Stridor is the noisy respiration due to obstruction of the air in and out of the lower respiratory tract. It is usually a symptom suggestive of a disease not a disease by itself.

What are the different types of Stridor?

  • Inspiratory stridor: Seen in obstruction of the upper airway upto the larynx.
  • Expiratory stridor : Seen in obstructive lesions at the bronchial level.
  • Mixed: Both inspiratory and expiratory components are seen in the stridor

What are the causes of stridor?

1. Congential:

  • Laryngeal web
  • Laryngomalacia
  • Laryngeal stenosis
  • Cysts of vocal cords

2) Inflammatory

  • Acute epiglottitis
  • Laryngitis
  • Laryngeal oedema
  • Laryngotracheal bronchitis
  • Tetanus
  • Ludwig's angina

3) Neoplastic

  • Juvenile laryngeal papillomas
  • Carcinoma larynx

4) Neurological

  • Vocal cord palsy
  • Tetany (laryngismus stridulus)

5) Trauma

  • Burns
  • Birth injury
    Intubation trauma

How is stridor diagnosed?

Detailed history:

  • The onset of stridor
  • Infective or congenital aetiology
  • History of foreign body aspiration
  • Hoarseness of voice in the past

Clinical examination:

  • Upper airway examination for any visible obstructive lesion
  • Examination of cardiovascular system
  • To note signs of respiratory distress and cyanosis
  • Examination of neck for local trauma and injury
  • Suprasternal inspiratory in-drawing


  • X-ray neck lateral view to see the airway
  • CT Scan neck and chest to know the exact cause and site of lesion
  • Direct laryngoscopy and fibre optic bronchoscopy to confirm diagnosis
  • X-ray chest

How is stridor managed?

Management of stridor:

  • Admission
  • Oxygen
  • Steroids, antibiotics
    Treatment of cause

If severe respiratory distress or fatigue is present, Tracheostomy may be required. It should be noted that all cases of stridor must be treated as an emergency

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