Vocal Fold Paresis


Vocal fold paresis is a condition in which one or both of the vocal fold(s) is/are weak. The vocal folds close when you voice or swallow. Weakness of tone or both of the vocal fold(s) results in weaker closure of the vocal folds.

What causes Vocal Fold Paresis?

Common causes are injury to the nerve(s) to the vocal folds from surgical procedures (such as thyroidectomy, cervical spinal surgery, cardiac surgery, lung surgery) or from intubation; viral inflammation of the nerve(s), referred to as a viral neuropathy; compression of the nerve(s) by masses adjacent to the nerve(s); and neurological conditions.

How could Vocal Fold Paresis affect me?

If you have a weak vocal fold (or if both are weak) you may experience vocal symptoms such as fatigue of the voice with prolonged talking, reduced projection of the voice, quietness of the voice or an inability to sing. Occasionally people with weakness of the vocal fold(s) may have difficulty swallowing, such as coughing or choking when swallowing (especially liquids).  Your neck and/or throat may also feel tired and may ache.

How is Vocal Fold Paresis treated?

Vocal fold paresis is treated by a Laryngologist (ENT Surgeon) and a Voice Therapist (Speech-Language Therapist). The Voice Therapist will teach you vocal techniques and will help you to optimise your voicing to improve how your voice sounds and feels. Surgery to augment the vocal fold(s) may be recommended to improve closure of the vocal folds. Vocal fold augmentation is achieved either by injecting an absorbable filler for temporary augmentation, or by inserting permanent implants into the vocal fold(s).