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Vocal Cord Paralysis

Overview
Overview

Vocal cords paralysis, also known as vocal cord dysfunction, occurs when the vocal cords don’t function properly due to illness or injury. This condition can make speaking, swallowing and breathing difficult, which can have detrimental effects on your everyday life and work.

As such, it’s important to know about the causes, symptoms and treatment of vocal cord paralysis so you can get help if you experience any of the symptoms associated with the condition.

What is Vocal Cord Paralysis?
What is Vocal Cord Paralysis?

Vocal cord paralysis, or vocal cord paresis, describes an impairment in the ability to control the movement of the vocal cords, resulting in changes in the voice and airway problems (e.g., dyspnea, dysphonia). This can lead to difficulty speaking or even complete loss of voice.

Viral infections or certain medications can cause vocal cords paralysis. Still, it can also result from trauma to the throat, thyroid problems, and other possible conditions.

Vocal Cord Paralysis Causes
Vocal Cord Paralysis Causes

Vocal cord paralysis can be caused by many things, including:

Vocal Cord Paralysis Symptoms
Vocal Cord Paralysis Symptoms

Vocal cord paralysis symptoms can include the following:

Vocal cord paralysis symptoms

If you experience any of these symptoms, you must see a doctor for an examination. They will listen to your voice and assess other physical symptoms before diagnosing. You may need further testing if your doctor suspects that you have vocal cord paralysis.

It’s important to note that some illnesses can cause similar symptoms, so that additional tests may be needed.

Vocal Cord Paralysis Diagnosis
Vocal Cord Paralysis Diagnosis

Our expert physician at the CK Birla Hospital will typically ask you questions about your symptoms and perform a physical exam of your voice box. The physician may also conduct a series of tests to determine if vocal cord paralysis is causing your symptoms.

These include stroboscopy, vide fluoroscopy, computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The cause of vocal cord paralysis can be determined based on what is discovered during testing.

Treatment is often based on that diagnosis. For example, surgery might be necessary for laryngeal papillomatosis, while speech therapy would suffice for benign causes like Bell’s palsy.

If you have hoarseness and problems swallowing, you should immediately see an ENT specialist at our facility because it could signify more serious health issues like cancer or a viral infection.

Vocal Cord Paralysis Treatment
Vocal Cord Paralysis Treatment

There are many possible treatments for vocal cord paralysis, depending on the underlying cause. Some common treatments include speech therapy, steroid injections, and surgery. In some cases, the paralysis may resolve independently without any treatment.

Vocal cord paralysis treatment

However, it is important to contact a doctor or a specialist if you experience any symptoms of vocal cord paralysis.

Voice Therapy

Speech therapy is an effective treatment that can help restore your voice or at least teach you how to speak with less strain. It also teaches people how to use their voices best to avoid injury in the future.

Our specialists are highly trained to offer voice therapies to effectively treat your vocal cord paralysis.

Surgery

If other treatments fail, surgery may be needed to repair damage caused by trauma or remove scar tissue from where nerves have been severed. Here are some common types of surgeries offered at our healthcare facility:

Vocal Cord Injection

This is a type of injection that restores nerve function to damaged nerves. The procedure is usually done by our ENT specialist, who places a needle into the affected area and then proceeds with injecting medicine into the space around the nerve and removing the needle quickly. 

Phono Surgery

We use lasers to cut through the skin near the middle of the larynx (voice box) to allow room for normal movement. Once the incision has healed, we insert a device called a vocal fold stimulator under both vocal folds, which stimulates them back into action via electric impulses.

Osteotomy

This involves cutting out part of one bone and grafting it onto another bone near it, most commonly performed on the hyoid bone, which connects throat muscles and tongue base.

Tracheotomy

We make an opening in the neck so air can go down directly into the lungs instead of going up through the nose and mouth.

This can also be done by inserting prosthetic devices, such as artificial larynxes, dental implants, phono stimulators, stents for esophageal feeding tubes or breathing tubes like tracheostomy tubes.

Vocal Cord Paralysis Prevention
Vocal Cord Paralysis Prevention

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent vocal cord paralysis, there are some measures you can take to reduce your risk:

Risk Factors
Risk Factors

Issues with breathing and eating

When the patient’s voice box does not work properly because their vocal cords are paralyzed, it can lead to issues with breathing and eating. Patients cannot cough, breathe deeply, talk loudly, or swallow foods or liquids normally.

When this happens, a physician may recommend a tracheotomy which involves creating an opening in the neck into which a tube is inserted so that they can breathe while they sleep. Doctors may also insert a feeding tube if necessary.

Neurological conditions

Many neurological conditions may result in vocal cord paralysis, including brain tumour, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy (CP), Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), as well as other less common neurological disorders.

Sometimes the cause of paralysis cannot be determined even after a thorough examination by a doctor.

Vocal Cord Paralysis Recovery
Vocal Cord Paralysis Recovery

The good thing is that the condition is often temporary and will improve independently. However, it can take several months for the paralysis to resolve completely.

Here’s what you can do to help your vocal cords recover:

Conclusion
Conclusion

If you think you may have vocal cord paralysis, it’s important to contact a medical professional as soon as possible. 

The CK Birla Hospital has a team of experts who can help diagnose and treat the condition. Our doctors will examine your throat to determine if your vocal cords are paralyzed. If this is the case, we will provide you with treatment options such as medication or surgery. You’ll also be given instructions on how to care for yourself at home during recovery. 

Contact the CK Birla Hospital as soon as you start experiencing any symptoms of vocal cord paralysis mentioned above. 

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