Asthma is a common disease that causes shortness of breath and wheezing on exertion. In recent years, it has been discovered that breathing disorders caused by the larynx can cause similar symptoms and are easily mistaken for asthma. These disorders, collectively termed Exercise-Induced Laryngeal Obstruction or EILO for short, can co-exist with asthma and complicate the diagnostic work-up and treatment.
Asthma medication does not work on EILO but having undiagnosed EILO may influence how patients are treated medically – especially if undiagnosed. According to asthma guidelines, doctors should consider increasing medical treatment if asthma symptoms persist. Particularly in the case of concurrent asthma and EILO it is difficult to determine if the symptoms should be attributed to asthma, suggesting an increase in treatment; or to EILO, proposing maintaning or decreasing treatment. Lastly, patients with EILO but no asthma should not take asthma medication at all.
Highly specialized diagnosis
It is not trivial to make a diagnosis of EILO. At present, the only way of accurately determining if EILO is present, is to perform a larygoscopic recording of the laryngeal movements during exercise. This test requires expertise and equipment, which is unavailable to most asthma clinics. Several attempts have been made to use existing diagnostic tools in the asthma clinic to suspect or determine if EILO is present but so far with little success.
Emil Schwarz Walsted seeks to better understand EILO by characterizing the physiological and clinical aspects of these conditions. By doing so, he hopes to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of EILO and to a better and more accurate patient care in the asthma outpatient clinic.