What are the causes of Vocal Cord Paralysis?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 08, 2014

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Quick Bites

  • Disruption to the nerve impulses to the voice box causes vocal cord paralysis.
  • It can affect the ability to speak and even swallow food or water.
  • An injury to the vocal cord or neck is suspected to be the cause.
  • Paralysis can even cause troubled breathing.

What is Vocal Cord Paralysis?

The paralysis of vocal cords occurs when the nerve impulses to the voice box are interrupted. As a result of this blockage the paralysis of muscle of vocal cords takes place. The paralysis can affect the ability to speak and sometimes even breathe.

Vocal cords besides producing sounds also prevent food, water, and saliva from entering the windpipe which can lead to a choke.

There are several causes of vocal cord paralysis like damage to the nerves during a surgery and some types of cancers. Vocal cord paralysis can also occur as a result of a viral infection or a neurological disorder.

Vocal Cord Paralysis Causes

What are the Symptoms?

The vocal cords are basically two flexible bands of muscle tissue which are placed at the beginning of the windpipe. While a person speaks the bands combine and vibrate together to produce a sound. And, when a person does not speak the vocal cords rest in an open position and help in breathing.

In major cases of vocal cord paralysis, only one vocal is affected. In case both the cords are affected the person may face vocal difficulties and some problems with breathing and swallowing down food and water.

The signs and symptoms of vocal cord paralysis include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Noise creating breaths
  • Loss of vocal pitch
  • Choking or coughing when swallowing food, water, or saliva
  • Inability to speak loudly
  • Ineffective coughing
  • The need to clear the throat frequently

Vocal Cord Paralysis Causes


What are the Causes?

The muscle paralysis is a result of disturbed nerve impulses reaching the voice box. Although health care providers are not sure of the causes, the probable reason behind the paralysis could be:

  • An injury to the vocal cord
  • An injury caused to the chest and neck
  • A stroke
  • Tumours
  • Inflammation
  • Other neurological conditions

Image courtesy: Getty Images

Read more on Vocal Cord Paralysis.


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