Proper disease management may help individuals with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes avoid vocal cord paralysis

At the recent 8th Middle East Update in Otolaryngology Exhibition & Conference, medical experts discussed a lesser-known reason why proper diabetes management is important for people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Good care can help patients avoid vocal cord paralysis, they said.

Manal Ahmed Bukhari, MD, explained that about half of people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes experience diabetic neuropathy (DNP).

"DNP may affect the cranial nerves, the vagus or even the recurrent laryngeal nerve, which can lead to unilateral or bilateral vocal cord paralysis," he said.

This condition may prevent one or both of the vocal cords from opening or closing properly, which is the definition of vocal cord paralysis. Individuals who develop this abnormality may notice changes in their voice, have trouble swallowing or develop a weak cough. Eventually, more serious symptoms can occur due to vocal chord paralysis, such as choking.

People with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes who experience these types of warning signs may seek an endoscopic examination of the vocal cords that can detect any paresis or paralysis, Bukhari noted.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information states that individuals often develop DNP between 10 and 20 years after their initial diagnosis of type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Nerve damage may affect a wide range of body functions other than those associated with the vocal cords, including digestion, and sensation in the legs and arms.

The organization emphasizes that "tight" diabetes management may help individuals avoid these serious complications. This means that a person should work with their primary care physician and dietitian to try to achieve non-diabetic blood glucose readings, which are between 70 and 130 milligrams per deciliter before meals and less than 180 two hours after consuming food.