Spasmodic Dysphonia

Spasmodic dysphonia is a chronic, long-term voice disorder. Vocal folds are part of our sound creating process. They sit on top of the windpipe and when air from the lungs is pushed through them, they produce sound. The vocal folds of those with spasmodic dysphonia do not work as they should.

Throat Exam With Depressor

Causes of Spasmodic Dysphonia

Spasmodic dysphonia causes your vocal folds to spasm or tighten when you talk. Common causes of this condition include:

  • Muscle tremors caused by your nervous system
  • A brain disorder called dystonia, which makes your muscles tight
  • Stress

Symptoms of Spasmodic Dysphonia

When your vocal folds spasm or tighten, your voice may sound jerky, shaky, hoarse or tight.

For most, their spasmodic dysphonia starts slowly and they may only have trouble once in a while. Over time, the voice problems will become more frequent. Being tired or stressed can often exacerbate the symptoms while singing or laughing may cause the symptoms to temporarily subside.

Symptoms will often not appear until you are between 30 and 50 years of age. This condition is more common in women.

How is Spasmodic Dysphonia Treated?

Spasmodic dysphonia cannot be easily tested for. For most, a multidisciplinary team is required to make a diagnosis. This includes a speech-language pathologist, an otolaryngologist and a neurologist.

While there is no cure for spasmodic dysphonia, there are treatments that may help reduce symptoms.

A common treatment option includes injecting Botox into one or both vocal folds. The toxin makes the muscles in the larynx weaker, leading to a smoother voice.

Completing voice therapy with a speech-language pathologist can help you produce a better voice. Working with a psychologist can help you learn to live with your spasmodic dysphonia.

Call Topeka ENT at 785-233-0500 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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