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What You Need to Know About Vocal Cord Paralysis

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to not be able to speak or even swallow food properly? This is the life of someone with vocal cord paralysis. It is a common issue that, unfortunately, affects many people. It is every singer or speaker’s worst nightmare. Here is what you need to know about vocal cord paralysis.

What is vocal cord paralysis?

Vocal cord paralysis happens when the vocal folds in the throat do not function properly. This can happen to just one vocal fold, or worse, both. When people speak or sing, the vocal folds open and close. However, with vocal cord paralysis, they stop opening and closing the way they should. Vocal paralysis in one vocal fold is not dangerous. However, having it in both can be life-threatening. The vocal folds need to be able to close when we swallow things like food and water. If both vocal folds are open, our lungs could be in danger.

What causes vocal cord paralysis?

There are a few different ways people can get vocal cord paralysis. The most common cause is nerve damage that occurs during surgery. Injuries to the head, neck or chest, cancer, and infections are common culprits. Neurological conditions or having a stroke can also cause vocal cord paralysis.

Signs to look out for

There are a few different signs of vocal cord paralysis to look out for. Some of these signs include:

  • Loud breathing
  • Hoarseness
  • Breathy speaking voice
  • Choking and coughing when eating, drinking, or swallowing
  • Unable to hit certain vocal pitches
  • Out of breath when speaking
  • Unable to speak loudly
  • No gag reflexes
  • Unable to clear throat by coughing
  • Constantly trying to clear throat

Treatment for vocal cord paralysis

doctor talking to a patient about their vocal cords

Although not easy, there are ways to treat this condition. For less severe conditions of vocal cord paralysis, treatment consists of therapy. During therapy, the patient will have to do different exercises to strengthen the vocal cords. If the condition is more severe, surgery may be required. There is a lot more to what you need to know about vocal cord paralysis and surgery. There are different types of surgery depending on the severity of the paralysis. Only a doctor can decide what is necessary.

While vocal cord paralysis is not always preventable, it is still important to take care of your voice. If your career relies on your voice, avoid activities that may potentially cause injury to your head, neck, or chest. For more on voice conditions, read our article, “Vocal Nodules and Your Voice”. Taking care of your voice is vital for those who use it in their career daily. Keep your voice healthy with our Clear Voice Spray. Check out the different flavors we offer and pick some out for yourself today.

Sources

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vocal-cord-paralysis/symptoms-causes/syc-20378873

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/vocal-fold-paralysis