Vocal cord paralysis, mostly affects only one vocal cord. If both of your vocal cords are affected, you may have difficulties with breathing and swallowing.
The inability of vocal chords (or larynx) to move is commonly known as Vocal cord paralysis. This is caused due to abnormal nerve input to voice box muscle. This may lead to change in your voice and may invoke you to breathe more. Also you will experience a noisy breath and choke when swallowing.
Such interruption of nerve impulses badly impact your ability to speak and breathe, leading to paralysis on voice cord muscle. Such inability greatly affects the daily life of the sufferer in almost all aspects which may include social interactions, career growth, choice of job industry and also your personal leisure activities.
Such an inability not only impacts your voice or breath, but at same time leads to problem in swallowing food and even water into your windpipe, which may cause you to choke.
What causes vocal cord paralysis?
This may be caused due to nerve damage during surgery and some type of cancers but its cause is not limited to them. Vocal cord paralysis may also be an effect of viral infection or a neurological disorder.
It may be treated with voice therapy and in some cases surgery may be required.
Common Symptoms of Vocal cord paralysis
In the most frequent cases of vocal cord paresis it is noted that only one cord is paralyzed, but it has also been observed that both the cords are affected for some patients. People suffering from such a disorder are most likely to experience difficulties when breathing and swallowing. Below are some common symptoms that are commonly observed-
• Change in Voice, becoming more ‘breathy’- sounding like a noisy whisper
• Harshness or croakiness in throat
• Noisier breath
• Unusual vocal pitch, which may affect your ability to raise voice
• ‘Choking’- due to swallowing of food and fluids (even saliva in some cases)
• Cough not clearing the throat appropriately
Such a paresis also leads to loss of Pharyngeal reflex (gag reflex), which is a reflex contraction on the back of your throat, caused when in contact with soft palate. It prevents anything to enter the throat except usual swallowing thus preventing choke.
If the symptoms are severe, it may have life threatening impact. As it is a paralysis in area which may lead food and fluids flow in wrong pipe (aspiration), increasing the risk of choking. It may cause pneumonia and will require immediate medical intervention.
If you experience inexplicable, continual harshness for more than four weeks or experience strange voice change or soreness please get in touch with a doctor.
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Read more articles on Understanding Vocal Cord Paralysis.
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