CEO Larry Page Discusses Illness On His Google+ Blog
May 15, 2013

CEO Larry Page Discusses Illness On His Google+ Blog

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Google CEO Larry Page was notably absent during last year´s I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco. Several weeks after the conference, executive chairman Eric Schmidt said Page had been recovering from an “unspecified ailment” which caused him to speak softly.

One day before this year´s I/O conference got underway, Page took to his Google+ profile to openly discuss his condition for the first time. Page has been diagnosed with left vocal cord paralysis, a condition which can make it difficult for him to exercise vigorously or even speak at full volume. As a result, Page will have limited participation in several company events, such as quarterly earnings calls, something which Schmidt first announced last year. In true Google fashion, Page has also taken this opportunity to fund research into his condition as well as ask others with the condition to provide the research with data about their paralysis.

“About 14 years ago, I got a bad cold, and my voice became hoarse,” begins Page´s blog post. “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 said the problem popped up again last summer after a cold left him with a hoarse voice. As his voice failed to return to full strength, Page visited his doctor and found that a second vocal cord had limited movement as well. Page also admits to being diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis in 2003, a condition which may or may not factor into the vocal cord paralysis.

“Thankfully, after some initial recovery I´m fully able to do all I need to at home and at work, though my voice is softer than before. And giving long monologues is more tedious for me and probably the audience,” writes Page.

“And Sergey (fellow Google co-founder) says I´m probably a better CEO because I choose my words more carefully. So surprisingly, overall I am feeling very lucky,” he adds.

Bloomberg has posted a thorough description of vocal cord paralysis as well as the various treatment options which may be available to Page.

Elastic muscles in a healthy voice box open wide when people breathe, close when they swallow and vibrate to create sound when they talk. When these cords don´t move as they should, each of these behaviors can become quite difficult. This paralysis can be caused by an injury to the head or neck, a thyroid condition as Page mentioned in his Google+ post, or by a viral infection.

Though this condition is rare, Priya Krishna, incoming director of the Voice and Swallow Center at Loma Linda University (LLU) Medical Center in California told Bloomberg it can be very dangerous.

“The danger there is the person´s airway is compromised,” said Krishna. “It´s definitely going to interfere with your energy level. You´re working harder to breathe, so you´re expending your energy you use to walk or talk to breathe.”

Page also mentioned meeting with several specialists to have his condition treated, including Dr. Steven Zeitels, the same doctor who helped singers Adele and John Mayer overcome their voice issues.

As a result, the Google co-founder has agreed to fund what he calls a “significant research program” through the Voice Health Institute, led by Dr. Zeitels. Page is also asking anyone else with his condition to fill out a survey and provide the research program with more data.