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A laryngospasm is an involuntary spasm of the vocal cords. Although a typical laryngospasm usually lasts less than sixty seconds, during this period of time, it is difficult for a person to breathe in, although breathing out remains unimpeded.
Laryngospasm is a normal reaction when water, mucous or blood strikes the larynx or trachea, preventing the inhalation of liquid into the lungs. However, if it is recurring, it can be a symptom of disease. The most likely candidate (the "horse") is laryngopharyngeal reflux. However, in post-surgical patients, it is most likely a reaction to anesthesia and the removal of an intubation tube.
Laryngospasm is particularly dangerous in children, and is also common after surgery under general anesthesia.
Normal laryngospasm will often resolve itself without treatment. If it occurs during surgery, the procedure is to hyperextend the neck and administer oxygen. The use of muscle relaxants is only recommended in serious cases, and re-intubation may be recommended.