AskDefine | Define stridor

Dictionary Definition

stridor n : a whistling sound when breathing (usually heard on inspiration); indicates obstruction of the trachea or larynx

User Contributed Dictionary



From stridere


  1. A harsh, shrill, unpleasant noise.
    1891 ''But when the tilted plank let slide its freight into the sea, a second strange human murmur was heard, blended now with another inarticulate sound proceeding from certain larger sea-fowl, whose attention having been attracted by the peculiar commotion in the water resulting from the heavy sloped dive of the shotted hammock into the sea, flew screaming to the spot. So near the hull did they come, that the stridor or bony creak of their gaunt double-jointed pinions was audible. Herman Melville, Billy Budd'', Chapter 28.
  2. A high pitched sound heard on inspiration resulting from turbulent air flow in the upper airway usually indicative of serious airway obstruction.

Extensive Definition

Stridor is a high pitched sound resulting from turbulent air flow in the upper airway. It may be inspiratory, expiratory or present on both inspiration and expiration. It can be indicative of serious airway obstruction from severe conditions such as epiglottitis, a foreign body lodged in the airway, or a laryngeal tumor. Stridor is indicative of a potential medical emergency and should always command attention. Wherever possible, attempts should be made to immediately establish the cause of the stridor (e.g., foreign body, vocal cord edema, tracheal compression by tumor, functional laryngeal dyskinesia, etc.) That examination requires visualization of the airway by a team of medical experts equipped to control the airway.


The first issue of clinical concern in the setting of stridor is whether or not tracheal intubation or tracheostomy is immediately necessary. Some patients will need immediate tracheal intubation. If intubation can be delayed for a period, a number of other potential options can be considered, depending on the severity of the situation and other clinical details. These include:
  • Expectant management with full monitoring, oxygen by face mask, and positioning the head of the bed for optimum conditions (e.g., 45 - 90 degrees)
  • Use of nebulized racemic epinephrine (0.5 to 0.75 ml of 2.25% racemic epinephrine added to 2.5 to 3 ml of normal saline) in cases where airway edema may be the cause of the stridor. ( Nebulized Cocaine in a dose not exceeding 3 mg/kg may also be used, but not together with racemic epinephrine [because of the risk of ventricular arrhythmias].)
  • Use of dexamethasone (Decadron) 4-8 mg IV q 8 - 12 h in cases where airway edema may be the cause of the stridor; note that some time (in the range of hours) may be need for dexamethasone to work fully.


Stridor has many different potential causes. It may occur as a result of:


Stridor is usually diagnosed the basis of history and physical examination, with a view to revealing the underlying problem or condition.
Chest and neck x-rays, CT-scans, and / or MRIs may reveal structural pathology.
Flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy can also be very helpful, especially in assessing vocal cord function of in looking for signs of compression or infection.


External links

stridor in German: Stridor
stridor in French: Stridor
stridor in Dutch: Stridor
stridor in Polish: Stridor
stridor in Portuguese: Estridor

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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