Can Parkinson’s Cause Vocal Cord Paralysis?




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Can Parkinson’s cause Vocal Cord Paralysis? Let’s figure it out. Parkinson’s is the second most frequent neurodegenerative disorder and affects more than 10 million people worldwide.

The condition leads to a diverse range of motor and non-motor symptoms, including excessive, unwanted muscle movement, balancing problems, and cognitive impairments. 

We have a related article for you, you can read How Did Parkinson’s Disease Start?

Can Parkinson’s Cause Vocal Cord Paralysis? 

There have been cases of Parkinson’s and Vocal Cord Paralysis co-occurring. However, studies still find mixed results regarding any correlation. 

Parkinson's Cause Vocal Cord Paralysis

There is no evidence that Parkinson’s can lead to vocal cord paralysis. The condition is more commonly caused by a brain injury, some forms of cancer (thyroid and lung cancer), chest and neck infection, or Lyme Disease.

Parkinson’s can cause noticeable damage to vocal and speech capabilities that can seem like Vocal Cord Paralysis.

Researches On The Issue 

Some researchers find that the abnormality in nerve impulses may be a possible cause behind vocal cord paralysis induced by Parkinson’s. Moreover, cases of Bilateral Vocal Cord paralysis are more common than Unilateral. But this is also the case for the general population. 

Overall, people with Parkinson’s are only as likely to develop the disease as the general population with no influential condition. 

A 2018 study on Late-Stage Parkinson’s and Bilateral Vocal Cord Paralysis stated that the cases are rare and do not frequently happen in young patients. Even in the older population (60-85 years), the co-occurrence of the two conditions is highly unlikely. 

Despite the unclear relationship, there are still some effects vocal cord paralysis can have on Parkinson’s disease and vice versa. The same 2018 study also found that vocal cord paralysis can lead to mortality when present with neurodegenerative conditions such as Multiple System Atrophy and Parkinson’s disease. 

The study further claimed that while direct pathogenesis cannot be found, Parkinson’s may be a possible cause if it leads to degeneration of the nucleus ambiguous. 

Two more studies investigated the likelihood of Parkinson’s and Vocal Cord Paralysis co-occurring. The first study found that only two out of 633 patients with Vocal Cord Paralysis had any subtype of Parkinsonism. The other study found that only 4 out of 389 Vocal Cord Paralysis patients had Parkinson’s. 

In some cases, Parkinson’s can lead to multiple vocal issues. A 2005 study investigating speech and vocal problems among Parkinson’s patients found that 90 percent had some form of vocal difficulty. Common conditions included hypophonia (soft speech), monotone, and heavy, breathy voice. 

There is substantial evidence that voice impairment is common with advanced stages of Parkinson’s. These conditions, especially breathy voice, can seem like a Vocal Cord Paralysis as a breathy and hoarse voice is one of its main symptoms. 

However, paralysis is a more severe condition and different from the symptoms caused by Parkinson’s. Keep reading to understand why Vocal Cord Paralysis is an unlikely risk of Parkinson’s.

How Parkinson’s Takes Effect?

Parkinson’s happens due to an abnormality within the parts of the brain responsible for maintaining physical and cognitive abilities. It leads to a lack of dopamine due to rapidly deteriorating brain cells and nerve function. 

Common areas of impaired functions include muscle coordination, balance, thinking, and reasoning capabilities.

Parkinson’s Is Mainly a Movement Disorder

One of the most prominent symptoms of Parkinson’s is related to physical abilities. The lack of dopamine indirectly leads to a lack of control over muscle movement. The condition also causes some other brain regions to become hyperactive, including the Thalamus and Globus Pallidus. 

While they sound complicated, these are simply parts of the brain responsible for most movements within our body. Once they become hyperactive, they lead to sudden and uncontrollable tremors, and shaking, which can also lead to misbalance while walking.

Over time, it causes damage and even death of essential brain cells responsible for the healthy functioning of a brain. When these cells deteriorate, a brain’s ability to read movement signals effectively also deteriorates, leading to unexplainable movement. 

These causes are mostly related to excessive and unwanted movement. There is little evidence to believe that lack of dopamine, an overactive thalamus, or damaged nerve cells can lead to immobility of a muscle or paralysis.

The disease is highly linked to creating random nerve impulses that are responsible for creating movement, rarely the opposite. 

Moreover, its most frequent complications are only related to motor and non-motor abilities. Common complications include pneumonia, infectious diseases, and heart failure. 

Parkinson’s And Cognitive Abilities

Cognitive abilities are the next most common domain impaired by Parkinson’s. Symptoms such as slow mental processing speed, memory deficits, problem-solving, and low alertness can arise in later stages of Parkinson’s

Over time, the impairment can become disabling and make patients dependent even for the simplest tasks. This happens due to neurochemical alterations within the brain. 

Most Individual cases never show any signs of immobility or Vocal Cord Paralysis due to neurochemical alterations either. 

There are some studies that believe Vocal Cord Paralysis may be caused by a very uncommon advancement of Parkinson’s. However, most patients never develop paralysis as the disease doesn’t allow them to live long enough to reach that stage. 

Also, you have to check out my post on the Top 8 Parkinson Disease Books of 2022 That You Need To Read.


 It’s important to get a professional assessment if you feel noticeable changes in your voice. While rare, Vocal Cord Paralysis can be highly dangerous and unmanageable with Parkinson’s.

Early detection can prevent the need for surgery and further complications. 

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