Google Co-Founder’s Latest Medical Condition Could Be Tied to Autoimmunity

Larry Page

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, recently announced he is suffering from paralyzed vocal cords. Could this condition be rooted in autoimmunity?

Page, who in 2003 announced he has the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, has recently struggled with a second seemingly unrelated health issue – limited movement of his vocal cords – that could be tied to his Hashimoto’s.

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), research studies show paralyzed vocal cords are associated with rheumatoid arthritis as well as other autoimmune rheumatic diseases, such as lupus and scleroderma. Unlike these autoimmune rheumatic diseases, however, paralyzed vocal chords are not often accompanied by noticeable joint pain so if the patient is not seeing a rheumatologist, getting a proper diagnosis could be difficult.

“We know autoimmune diseases cluster in patients and families. So if a patient has one autoimmune disease, like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis , it’s fairly common that he or she could have multiple ADs that may or may not be diagnosed,” said Virginia T. Ladd, president, AARDA. “In the case of Larry Page, perhaps he should see a rheumatologist to rule this possibility in or out so he can get a correct diagnosis and move on with a proper course of treatment.”

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, is one of the 100-plus known autoimmune diseases. With Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system makes antibodies that damage thyroid cells and interfere with their ability to make thyroid hormone. Over time, thyroid damage can cause thyroid hormone levels to be too low. This underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, causes every function of the body to slow down, such as heart rate, brain function, and metabolic rate, or the rate your body turns food into energy. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid. It is closely related to Graves’ disease, another autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid.

Some 50 million Americans live and cope with ADs, 75 percent of whom are women. AD is one of the top 10 leading causes of death of women under the age of 65. It encompasses more than 100 diseases, including psoriasis, Graves’ disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and lupus. It is responsible for more than $100 billion in direct health care costs annually.


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