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Possible Airway Problems

Vocal Cord (Fold) Paresis And Paralysis

Vocal cord (or fold) paresis and paralysis result from abnormal nerve input to the voice box muscles (laryngeal muscles).

Paralysis is the total interruption of nerve impulse, resulting in no movement; paresis is the partial interruption of nerve impulse, resulting in weak or abnormal motion of laryngeal muscles.

Paresis/paralysis can happen at any age, from birth to advanced age, in males and females, from a variety of causes.

The effect on patients may vary greatly, depending on the patient’s use of his or her voice: A mild vocal fold paresis can be the end to a singer’s career, but have only a marginal effect on a computer programmer.

If you notice any change in your voice quality, immediately contact one of our Ear, Nose & Throat providers.



Both paresis and paralysis of voice box muscles result in voice changes and may also result in airway problems and swallowing difficulties.

Voice changes: Hoarseness; breathy voice; extra effort on speaking; excessive air pressure required to produce usual conversational voice; and diplophonia (voice sounds like a gargle).

Airway problems: Shortness of breath with exertion, noisy breathing and ineffective cough.

Swallowing problems: Choking or coughing when swallowing food, drink or even saliva, and food sticking in throat.

For more information on airway problems, please contact one of our Ear, Nose & Throat providers.