What is the treatment for paralyzed vocal cords?

Kenneth Altman, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)

Paralyzed vocal cords can result from tumors, some surgeries, or viral infections when the nerve supplying the vocal cord is damaged. Usually a paralysis prevents one of the vocal cords from opening and closing, which are necessary for allowing air into the lungs and keeping material out of the lungs. Having a hoarse, breathy voice or choking on liquids is usually the only sign of a vocal paralysis. When the cause of a paralysis is not known, a temporary material can be injected into the vocal cord, moving it over to better close the airway. This will make swallowing safer, and voicing stronger. Voice therapy can also help in preventing you from pushing the voice and accruing bad habits that would be difficult to unlearn. The vocal cord’s movement is observed for 6-8 months, by which time it may regain its function. If however the cord is still not opening and closing by that time, a more permanent material is used to move the cords into a better position for achieving opening and closure.

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