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Massachusetts Eye and Ear
/assets/MEE/images/mgb-default-thumb.png Laryngomalacia

Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery


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Laryngomalacia is the most common cause of noisy breathing (stridor) in infants. It occurs due to a collapse of structures above the voice box, blocking the lower airway when breathing in. It usually presents in the first few days or weeks of life and resolves on its own by age 12 to 20 months in 90 percent of infants. However, in about 10 percent, it may be severe, requiring surgery.

9Common Symptoms

  • Cyanotic episodes (turning blue)
  • Inspiratory stridor (high-pitched noise while breathing in)
  • Sucking in of chest/neck with each breath
  • Apneic episodes (stopping breathing)
  • Regurgitation
  • Coughing/choking with feeds
  • Liquids or solids head toward or into airway with swallowing
  • Slow feeding
  • Poor weight gain/failure to thrive

Diagnosis and Treatment

Laryngomalacia is diagnosed by examining a patient's history and by performing a physical exam. On a physical exam, an endoscope is passed through the nose and used to examine the voice box to look for floppiness of the larynx and signs of reflux. For mild cases, no treatment is indicated as it may likely resolve on its own. For moderate cases, most infants will do well with medical treatment of reflux alone using anti-reflux medications. Infants with more severe symptoms or those who do not improve despite medical treatment may require surgery.

Meet Our Team

We bring together physicians, speech-language pathologists, and other healthcare professionals to provide treatment to patients suffering from breathing troubles.

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