Postviral vagal neuropathy

Catherine J. Rees, Arthur H. Henderson, Peter C Belafsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Objectives: Postviral vagal neuropathy (PVVN) is a clinical diagnosis characterized by laryngeal complaints initiated by an upper respiratory tract infection (URI). Little is known about the natural history of this disease, and only small case series have been reported. We describe the clinical presentation, symptoms, patient demographics, and natural history of PVVN. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of all patients with a diagnosis of PVVN from January 1, 2006, to December 31, 2006, was prospectively administered, detailing disease onset, type and duration of symptoms, demographics, and previous treatment. The Reflux Symptom Index Voice Handicap Index, and laryngoscopic findings were collected for each patient. Results: Forty-four patients with PVVN were identified. The mean age (±SD) was 48 ± 13 yeas, and 73% of the patients were female. The most common initial URI symptoms were cough (89%), nasal congestion (75%), and rhinorrhea (64%). Fifty-nine percent of the patients took antibiotics, and the mean time between symptom onset and presentation to the laryngologist was 83 ± 127 weeks. The most common persistent symptoms were cough (52%), throat clearing (48%), dysphonia (41.5%), and vocal fatigue (43%). Fifty-seven percent of the patients consulted 3 or more physicians for their symptoms. The mean Voice Handicap Index was 13.4 ± 10.3, and the mean Reflux Symptom Index was 17.7 ± 11. Forty-nine percent of the patients had evidence of vocal fold paresis on strobovideolaryngoscopy. Conclusions: PVVN is a clinical entity characterized by a complex of laryngeal symptoms that begin after a URI. The symptoms include chronic cough, excessive throat clearing, dysphonia, and vocal fatigue. Affected individuals are typically in their fifth decade of life and appear more likely to be women. Most patients have seen multiple physicians, and the time to laryngologist referral is often delayed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-252
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Dysphonia
  • Hoarseness
  • Larynx
  • Neuropathy
  • Postviral vagal neuropathy
  • Reflux
  • Throat clearing
  • Vagal neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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