Vocal Cord Paralysis

Lakeshore Ear, Nose & Throat Center

Ear, Nose & Throat Doctors located in St. Clair Shores, Macomb Township, Rochester Hills, Grosse Pointe, and Sterling Heights, MI

Vocal cord paralysis may leave you with a breathy or hoarse voice, or you may have a hard time breathing, depending on the type of paralysis. The specialists at Lakeshore Ear, Nose & Throat Center are experts at determining the underlying cause of this complex condition and providing customized treatment to resolve the problem. If you have questions about vocal cord paralysis, call one of their offices in St. Clair Shores, Macomb Township, Rochester, Grosse Pointe, and Sterling Heights, Michigan, or book an appointment online today.

Vocal Cord Paralysis Q & A

What causes vocal cord paralysis?

Your vocal cords can become wholly or partially paralyzed. Nerve dysfunction is one of the most common causes, but paralysis can also develop as a result of rheumatologic or cardiovascular disease.

In some cases, vocal cord paralysis arises from an injury or viral infection. Even lung cancer can cause vocal cord paralysis when it affects the nerve that serves your vocal cords.

 

What are the two types of vocal cord paralysis?

Your vocal cords consist of two flexible bands of tissue. When you speak, the bands come together and vibrate to make sounds. The rest of the time, they stay in a relaxed, open position so you can breathe. The two types of vocal cord paralysis are unilateral, where one band is paralyzed, and bilateral, meaning both bands are paralyzed.

What are the symptoms of vocal cord paralysis?

While your symptoms depend on whether you have unilateral or bilateral paralysis, the potential symptoms for both types include:

  • Breathy voice
  • Hoarseness
  • Noisy breathing
  • Loss of vocal pitch
  • Coughing or choking when swallowing food, drink, or saliva
  • Need to take frequent breaths while speaking
  • Frequent need to clear throat
  • Inability to speak loudly

With the unilateral type, you’re more likely to have a breathy voice or feel winded when you speak. Bilateral paralysis may not affect your voice, but it causes breathing problems.

 

How is vocal cord paralysis treated?

Your Lakeshore doctor customizes your treatment plan to meet your needs, which means that an underlying cause such as nerve damage is either ruled out or diagnosed and treated.

Beyond managing the underlying condition, your treatment options for unilateral vocal cord paralysis include:

Voice therapy

Your voice pathologist guides you through exercises that rehabilitate your voice, promote healing after an injury, or help you prepare or recover from vocal cord surgery.

Injection laryngoplasty

Your doctor injects a filler into the vocal cord to plump it up and help close the vocal folds.

Laryngeal framework surgeries

During thyroplasty, your doctor places an implant in the larynx to push the paralyzed vocal cord closer to the functioning vocal cord. A second procedure, arytenoid adduction, rotates the vocal cord into a closed position then sutures it in place.

If you have bilateral vocal cord paralysis, your doctor recommends one of several possible surgical interventions to improve your airway.

Call the experts at Lakeshore Ear, Nose & Throat Center or book an appointment online today if you suffer from vocal cord paralysis.

*Click here to learn more about our Professional Voice & Swallowing Center