Tracheal stenosis symptoms are seen in patients whose windpipes have become narrow or constricted. Read on more about tracheal stenosis signs and symptoms by going through the following article.
Lungs are supplied with a steady flow of air by the windpipe, medically called the trachea. This pipe or airway leads down the larynx into the bronchi that is in turn connected to the lungs. When this trachea is constricted or becomes narrow, it leads to a condition called tracheal stenosis. There are many patients, who do not exhibit tracheal stenosis symptoms. We shall go into the details of this condition as well as learn about the signs and symptoms, if any exhibited by an affected person.
What Causes Tracheal Stenosis?
Tracheal stenosis can either be a congenital condition or an acquired conditions. This is a very rare condition that occurs due to loss of soft tissue and cartilage support. Congenital stenosis can occur due to congenital anomalies of the larynx. Acquired stenosis occurs due to prolonged endotracheal intubation. Intubation causes injury of the glottis and subglottis. Thus, the pressure and motion of the tube against the cartilage, leads to stenosis.
In some cases, it may occur due to a foreign body stuck in the trachea, infection, inflammation or chemical irritation. It even occurs in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases include sarcoidosis, Wegener’s granulomatosis, polychondritis, etc. Benign or cancerous tumors that are pressing on the windpipe, may also lead to tracheal stenosis.
Signs and Symptoms
As mentioned earlier, stenosis may not cause any symptoms in a few patients. The symptoms develop very slowly and gradually. Many times, these signs and symptoms are often mistaken for other disorders. This causes delay in correct treatment. However, some of the symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Labored breathing
- Stridor when breathing in due to blockage of the voice box or throat
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent inflammation of the lungs or recurrent respiratory infections
- Cyanosis (bluish color of the skin) around the mucous membrane of the mouth or nose
- Asthma that is difficult to treat
As you can see, the symptoms are very similar to other respiratory disorders. Thus, many times patients think of it as respiratory illness and do not seek immediate medical help. However, if one develops either of the tracheal stenosis signs and symptoms.
The diagnoses of tracheal stenosis is carried out by conducting tests such as chest and windpipe X-ray, neck and chest CT scan, laryngoscopy of the larynx and bronchoscopy of the trachea and bronchi.
The treatment for stenosis includes surgery. These surgical options include the following:
- Tracheal resection and reconstruction where a section of the trachea is removed and the ends rejoined. This is a very successful surgical option that has long-term effects.
- Tracheal laser surgery where lasers are used to remove the scar tissues blocking the trachea. This method is good for short-term relief to the patient. However, in some cases the condition worsens with laser surgery.
- Tracheal dilation involves use of a balloon or tracheal dilators to open up the windpipe. This is a temporary relief measure that helps doctors understand the how much length of the trachea is affected by the stenosis. It is also helpful in cases where the cause of stenosis is unknown.
- Tracheobronchial airway stent involves use of a metal, silicone or hybrid tube. This tube is placed at the site of stenosis and helps keep the airway open. This method is useful for short-term as well as long-term treatment of this condition.
This condition can occur due to endotracheal intubation, tracheotomy, radiotherapy, external injury, autoimmune conditions, bacterial infections and even as a congenital defect. Intubation is seen as the main cause in around 90% of the cases. If you are hearing a loud noise while breathing (stridor) or suffering from the above mentioned symptoms, better get a doctor to examine your throat. Only a doctor will be able to guide you regarding tracheal stenosis.