How To Diagnose Vocal Cord Paralysis

Vocal cord paralysis is a case of something interrupting the impulses sent by your nervous system to the voice box, causing your vocal cords to become paralyzed. This is a serious problem and you must have it diagnosed and treated immediately. Here is how to diagnose vocal cord paralysis:

  • Causes. Damage to the nerve input to the Superior Laryngeal Nerve or Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve is the main cause of paralysis. These include complications with a breathing tube insertion near the neck, trauma to the head or neck, the occurrence of a tumor near the laryngeal nerves, complications from surgery of the neck or chest and viral infection. However, it is sometimes possible that doctors won’t be able to determine the true cause of the affliction.
  • Symptoms and diagnosis. You can tell if you or someone else has vocal cord paralysis once you detect changes in the voice, breathing and swallowing problems. If your voice is hoarse or cracking, it takes more effort to speak, you have difficult time breathing after doing something strenuous and you sound like you’re gargling or your breathing sounds noisy for an extended period of time, something could be wrong. Also watch out for instances when food sticks to your mouth or if you choke and have a hard time swallowing food, drinks and even saliva. Once these symptoms present themselves, check with a head/neck surgeon or otolaryngologist. She can then run tests and look through your medical history and lifestyle to properly diagnose you. Usually, she will examine your voice box and see if the vocal cords are abnormal. She can also check if the cause has something to do with another ailment or is a nerve input problem. Either way, you need to go to the hospital for a proper diagnosis.
  • Treatment. The treatments will depend on the cause of the vocal cord paralysis. Sometimes, the nerves will heal themselves and in this case, you will only need vocal therapy to help you adjust and heal quicker. When this fails, surgery is your next option. This can include an injection of fat or collagen to help strengthen your weakened cords, vocal cord repositioning or a tracheotomy, which is done to insert a breathing tube if you really cannot breathe. An alternative form of treatment is linking the cords to another set of electrical impulse-producing nerves or even a machine like a pacemaker. You might also need to see a speech therapist to help you cope with your unfortunate situation.
  • Other reminders. Women are more at risk than men but regardless, you always put yourself at risk whenever you have surgery near the chest or neck, since the vocal cords are located in those areas. People who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases are prone to vocal cord paralysis.

Diagnosing vocal cord paralysis is important because there are many causes for it, thus to treat it properly, you need to be able to find out the exact root cause. If you or your friends and family members feel that something could be wrong with your voice box, do not hesitate to get it checked.


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