May 14, 2013 — -- Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page has broken his silence about his silence. Page, who has missed a few of the company's earnings calls and large events over the past year, revealed today that he had been battling vocal cord paralysis.
"About 14 years ago, I got a bad cold, and my voice became hoarse. At the time I didn't think much about it. But my voice never fully recovered. So I went to a doctor and was diagnosed with left vocal cord paralysis," Page wrote in a Google Plus post. "This is a nerve problem that causes your left vocal cord to not move properly. Despite extensive examination, the doctors never identified a cause, though there was speculation of virus-based damage from my cold. It is quite common in cases like these that a definitive cause is not found."
Page reveals in the post that in addition to the problems with one vocal cord, last summer his second vocal cord began to have limited movement. He says he is now, after his initial recovery, "able to do all I need to at home and at work."
When one vocal cord is paralyzed, it affects the voice, but when another is paralyzed, it affects breathing, explained Dr. Gaelyn Garrett, medical director of the Vanderbilt Voice Center in Nashville.
"As long as you have one vocal cord that opens and closes it is purely a voice problem," Garrett told ABC News. "If the other vocal cord becomes paralyzed, then you have two cords stuck in a near-closed position. You can still produce voice, but what you lose is the opening for breathing."
Garrett added that the paralysis itself is not life-threatening. "From a health standpoint anything life-threatening would be related to the cause of the paralysis but not the paralysis itself," she explained.
The 40-year-old CEO, in addition to missing a few of Google's earnings calls, also missed last year's Google I/O conference. When on the earnings calls his voice has sounded breathy and raspy. Page, who created Google with co-founder Sergey Brin, became the CEO of the company in early 2011.
Through battling these medical problems since 2003, Page says in the post that he has learned a lot about vocal problems, and while his condition is rare he will fund a research program through the Voice Health Institute. Page posted a link to a patient survey so the organization can gather information about other people with similar conditions.