Common cause of stridor in children

Stridor in children refers to a high-pitched, noisy sound heard during breathing. It typically occurs when there is partial obstruction of the airway, causing turbulent airflow. There are several potential causes of stridor in children, and it is important to identify the underlying issue for appropriate management. A common cause of stridor in children is:


  • Laryngomalacia is one of the most common causes of stridor in infants. It is a congenital condition characterized by the softening and floppiness of the supraglottic structures, including the epiglottis and aryepiglottic folds.
  • The softening of these structures leads to their inward collapse during inhalation, causing turbulent airflow and the characteristic stridor.
  • Laryngomalacia is often more noticeable when the infant is agitated, crying, or in certain positions.

Other potential causes of stridor in children include:

  1. Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD):
  • Dysfunction of the vocal cords can lead to partial closure during breathing, causing stridor.
  • VCD may be triggered by stress, anxiety, or other factors that result in abnormal vocal cord movement.
  1. Subglottic Stenosis:
  • Narrowing of the subglottic airway (below the vocal cords) can result in stridor.
  • Subglottic stenosis may be congenital or acquired.
  1. Tracheomalacia:
  • Softening or collapse of the tracheal walls during breathing can cause stridor.
  • Tracheomalacia may be congenital or acquired.
  1. Foreign Body:
  • Inhalation of a foreign object can partially obstruct the airway, leading to stridor.
  • This is more common in toddlers and young children.
  1. Infections and Inflammation:
  • Infections such as croup (laryngotracheobronchitis) or bacterial tracheitis can cause inflammation and swelling of the airway, resulting in stridor.
  1. Congenital Anomalies:
  • Other congenital anomalies of the airway may cause stridor.
  • Examples include laryngeal clefts or anomalies of the larynx and trachea.

If a child is experiencing stridor, especially if associated with respiratory distress, it is crucial to seek prompt medical attention. A healthcare provider, often a pediatrician or pediatric otolaryngologist (ENT specialist), can conduct a thorough evaluation, which may include a physical examination, imaging studies, and other diagnostic tests, to determine the underlying cause of the stridor and recommend appropriate treatment.