What is tracheomalacia?

Tracheomalacia is a collapsing of the airway or trachea below the vocal folds when breathing. This occurs when the cartilage of the trachea (airway) has not developed properly and causes the trachea to narrow during exhalation. Tracheomalacia may be congenital or acquired later.

What are the symptoms of tracheomalacia?

Major symptoms of tracheomalacia include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • high-pitched or rattling, noisy breaths
  • severe coughing fits that interrupt daily activities
  • episodes of feeling like you are choking
  • lightheadedness due to coughing
  • recurrent pulmonary infections

What causes tracheomalacia?

Tracheomalacia can be congenital (from birth) condition or can be acquired due to an infection.

How is tracheomalacia treated?

Treatment for tracheomalacia varies depending on its severity. Many infants with tracheomalacia will outgrow the disorder and can benefit from medical and therapeutic management to improve quality of life. In more severe cases, surgical management is required and there are a variety of surgical procedures that can be performed.