Definition

The larynx is the upper part of the throat that contains the voice box. Tissues inside the larynx become soft and weak, and block the flow of air. This results in noisy breathing. Laryngomalacia most often present at birth.

The Larynx

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Causes

Relaxed, weak muscles may contribute to the condition. It is not known exactly why some babies have this condition.

Risk Factors

There are no known risk factors for this condition.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Noisy breathing, especially when your baby breathes in
  • High-pitched sound when breathing
  • Vomiting or spitting up
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Poor weight gain
  • Choking while feeding
  • A chest and/or neck that sinks in with each breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Breathing that stops suddenly and then continues
  • Bluish skin color

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your baby’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your baby’s larynx may need to be viewed. This can be done with a laryngoscopy.

Treatment

Laryngomalacia usually goes away on its own as a baby develops. It often is gone by the time a child is 2 years old.

Other times, laryngomalacia must be treated. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for your baby. Options include:

Laryngomalacia may cause or worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can also worsen the symptoms of laryngomalacia. Your baby’s doctor may advise medications to treat GERD by keeping fluids of the stomach from flowing up into the throat.

A surgery called supraglottoplasty may be needed if your baby has any problems related to eating or breathing. This surgery trims the unneeded tissue from your baby’s larynx. The surgery may need to be repeated in some cases.

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent laryngomalacia because the cause is not known.