Is Vocal Paralysis Treatable?
In addition to producing sound, your vocal cords are responsible for protecting your windpipe from saliva, drink, and food. Vocal cord paralysis is when nerve impulses to the larynx are disrupted, causing paralysis to the muscles. It can be caused by certain cancers, infections, or nerve damage.
At The Barranco Clinic, we will work with you to identify the most effective treatment for your vocal paralysis, taking into account what may have caused this condition and any treatments you may be receiving for other health issues.
What should I expect at my first visit to The Barranco Clinic?
During your first visit to The Barranco Clinic about your vocal paralysis, your doctor will ask questions about your lifestyle, symptoms, and how long you have struggled with vocal paralysis. He or she will also listen to your voice. This early in the process, we will perform one or more of these tests:
- Laryngoscopy: this procedure uses a thin, flexible tube (called an endoscope or laryngoscope) or a mirror so your doctor can look at your vocal cords.
- Videostrobolaryngoscopy: this test uses a special scope with a camera attached to it and is used so your doctor can determine if one or both of your vocal cords are affected.
- Laryngeal electromyography: using small needles inserted into your neck, your doctor will use this test to measure the electric currents in your voice box muscles. Your doctor may conduct laryngeal electromyography anywhere from six weeks and six months after you first report symptoms and is sometimes useful to predict how your vocal cords will recover.
What are the first steps of treatment?
After the initial assessment, your doctor may also order:
- Blood tests
- CT scans
- Additional electromyography
There are a number of diseases that can impact the nerves connected to your vocal cords and cause injury, so these additional tests may be necessary for your doctor to identify the cause of the paralysis. You may also be referred to a speech-language pathologist for voice assessment and therapy.
What will my vocal paralysis treatment be?
Treatment for vocal cord paralysis may include voice therapy, bulk injections, surgery, or a combination of treatments. The treatment plan we will work out for you at The Barranco Clinic depends upon the cause, the severity of your symptoms, and the time from the onset of symptoms.
In some instances, your vocal cord paralysis may improve without surgical intervention, using speech therapy. Your ENT may choose to delay permanent surgery for a year or more from the start of your vocal cord paralysis. However, surgical treatment with injections is often initiated within the first three months the loss of your voice.
We know your voice is important and that experiencing vocal cord paralysis can be frustrating, and sometimes debilitating. While it is possible that vocal cord paralysis may mean that you are unable to regain the voice you once had, and full recovery is never guaranteed, we work with all our patients at The Barranco Clinic to help you understand what is causing your vocal paralysis, find solutions to your specific case, and offer solutions that will help you to effectively communicate without causing further damage to your vocal cords.