The causes of vocal cord paralysis all create damage to one or both of the nerves attached to the vocal fold muscles in the larynx, or voice box. Accordingly, the disorder is sometimes referred to as laryngeal nerve damage. Injury to both nerves at the same time can cause extreme difficulty breathing and be an emergency situation.
What Causes Vocal Cord Paralysis?
Injuries to the laryngeal nerves may be sustained for several reasons. The risk factors for vocal cord paralysis include:
- Injury to the head, neck and chest
- Tumors in the chest, neck and base of the skull such as thyroid or lung cancer)
- Inflammation from viral infection of the nerves
- Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis
- Breathing tube inserted in the windpipe
- Surgery on the brain, neck, thyroid or chest
However, in many cases, the causes of vocal cord paralysis are unknown.