Breathy, weak voice

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Hi Dr. Thomas, Five weeks ago I suddenly developed a breathy, weak voice. I sound as though I have laryngitis, but my symptoms are not going away or improving with rest or time. I saw an ENT specialist today who looked at my throat and said my vocal cords and throat appear normal. I should also mention that I cannot cough from my diaphragm normally and make a strange gurgling sound instead of a coughing sound when I try. I am confused by my doctor's diagnosis because how can everything be normal if I cannot cough or speak normally? I read about nerve damage to the vocal cords and thought this might be what I am suffering from but my doctor says my cords were moving normally. Can you recommend any follow up tests to help me determine the cause of my problem? Is it possible to have laryngitis or some viral complication for 5 weeks? I look forward to hearing from you. I could really use some advice.

Darla McFarlane
Age 42
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
James P Thomas MD's picture
Submitted by James P Thomas MD on Sat, 2012-04-07 14:14


Dear Darla,


The most important aspect of any medical problem is to have a correct diagnosis. You are correct that it is not possible to have a hoarse voice and normal vocal cords. While your symptoms do suggest a weakness of closure of the vocal cords, only a good and detailed examination can identify the source of your problem. For a second opinion, I do list a number of physicians who specialize in disorders of the vocal cords at