Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs – Our Vet Gives You the Information You Need
The word “paralysis” may not be familiar to most people, but it’s something that affects millions of Americans every year. It is a condition where part or all of the voice box (voice box) fails to function normally. If left untreated, it causes severe problems with speech and other basic communication skills.
It is estimated that there are over 100 million people living with some degree of laryngeal paralysis worldwide. Many of these cases go undiagnosed and untreated because they aren’t recognized until much later in life. Even then, many patients die before they get the proper treatment needed to save their lives.
There have been several attempts at finding a cure for laryngeal paralysis since its discovery in 1869. However, none have ever come close to being successful. There are currently no effective treatments for laryngeal paralysis.
What Causes Laryngeal Paralysis?
Laryngeal paralysis is caused by a number of different conditions. These include:
1) Traumatic injury to the vocal cords such as from gunshots, explosions, falls and even drowning.
2) Wasting diseases such as polio and muscular dystrophy that cause the muscles of the larynx to weaken and eventually stop functioning.
3) Tumors and other anomalies in the structure of the larynx that interfere with its ability to function properly.
4) Injuries and trauma to the larynx during medical procedures such as endoscopy, throat surgery and certain types of injections.
5) Nutritional deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals that are necessary for proper larynx functioning.
What Are the Symptoms of Laryngeal Paralysis?
The symptoms of laryngeal paralysis are very easy to spot if you know what to look for. These symptoms may include:
1) Hoarse or weak voice quality.
Most people with laryngeal paralysis have a hoarse voice quality. In severe cases, one may not be able to speak or talk at all.
2) Difficulty Swallowing.
Many people with laryngeal paralysis experience problems swallowing. In some cases, food and liquids may go down the wrong pipe causing suffocation or choking.
3) Breathing difficulties.
Some people with laryngeal paralysis suffer from shortness of breath and even respiratory failure caused by their paralyzed vocal cords.
4) Neck and throat pain.
As the muscles in the neck and throat grow weaker, the strain on the other muscles that are being used to speak, swallow and breathe increases. Soon you will feel pain in your neck and throat when using your voice or doing any of the activities that were previously effortless.
5) Difficulty sleeping.
Many people experience interrupted sleep patterns because of their breathing problems. Lack of sleep can cause fatigue, drowsiness, and headache. It can also cause irritability, bad judgment and increased chances of getting into an accident.
6) Hoarse or weak voice quality in other areas of the body.
Many people experience hoarseness or weakness in their voices even when they are not using them. This can cause great embarrassment especially in professional or social settings.
7) Coughing and choking spells.
In some cases, food or liquids may go down the wrong pipe causing suffocation. In these cases, the individual may choke and cough violently until the object is either coughed up or spat out.
What are the Different Types of Laryngeal Paralysis?
The different types of laryngeal paralysis can classified by their origin and cause. Some of the main types of laryngeal paralysis include:
1) True vocal cord paralysis.
This occurs when the actual vocal cords become paralyzed. This type of paralysis is most commonly caused by injury or trauma to the neck such as a car accident, gunshot or fall. In some cases, it can be caused by tumors, growths, inflammation or other anomalies in the structure of the larynx.
2) False vocal cord paralysis.
Instead of paralyzing the true vocal cords, this condition causes paralysis in the false vocal cords. In other words, one loses the ability to control the vibrating membrane while retaining the ability to control the non-vibrating one. Causes of this type of paralysis are similar to those of the former type.
3) Central respiratory paralysis tends to affect the central respiratory muscles such as those found in the chest.
This is most commonly caused by an infection or disease affecting the brain or brain stem such as polio or measles.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Abductor muscle prosthesis for correction of laryngeal paralysis in 10 dogs and one cat. (JT Payne, RA Martin, DL Rigg – Journal of the American Animal …, 1990 – cabdirect.org)
- A retrospective study of unilateral arytenoid lateralisation in the treatment of laryngeal paralysis in 100 dogs (1992–2000) (SR Snelling, GA Edwards – Australian veterinary journal, 2003 – Wiley Online Library)
- Histopathological confirmation of polyneuropathy in 11 dogs with laryngeal paralysis (KM Thieman, DJ Krahwinkel… – Journal of the …, 2010 – meridian.allenpress.com)