You're likely to first see your primary care doctor unless both vocal cords are paralyzed. In that case, you'll probably first be seen in a hospital emergency department.
After the initial assessment, you'll likely be referred to a doctor who specializes in ear, nose and throat disorders. You may also be referred to a speech-language pathologist for voice assessment and therapy.
It's helpful to arrive well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent illnesses or life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking, including the dose of each.
- Ask a family member or friend to come with you, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For vocal cord paralysis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my vocal cord paralysis?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is this condition temporary, or will my vocal cords always be paralyzed?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
- Are there any alternatives to the treatment that you're suggesting?
- Are there any restrictions on using my voice after treatment? If so, for how long?
- Will I be able to talk or sing after treatment?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask any additional questions that occur to you during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
May 20, 2015
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Were there any special events or circumstances that happened before or at the same time that your symptoms developed?
- Have you received any treatment yet?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or do they come and go?
- How are your symptoms affecting your lifestyle?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Do you have any other medical conditions?
- Dankbaar JW, et al. Vocal cord paralysis: Anatomy, imaging and pathology. Insights in Imaging. 2014;5:743.
- Vocal cord paralysis. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/vocalparal.aspx. Accessed April 13, 2015.
- Vocal cord paralysis. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/vfparalysis.htm. Accessed April 13, 2015.
- Doherty GM, ed. Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery. 13th ed. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed April 14, 2015.
- Bruch JM, et al. Hoarseness in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 11, 2015.
- Rubin RT, et al. Vocal fold paresis and paralysis. Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America. 2007;40:1109.
- Toutounchi SJS, et al. Vocal cord paralysis and its etiologies: A prospective study. Journal of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Research. 2014;6:47.