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Spasmodic Dysphonia

(SD; Adductor Laryngeal Breathing Dystonia (ABLD); Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia; Abductor Spasmodic Dysphonia; Dysphonia, Episodic Laryngeal Dyskinesia; Laryngeal Dystonia; Spastic Dysphonia)

Definition

Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is a voice disorder. The muscles of the throat freeze or go into spasms. This makes it hard to speak.
The main types of SD are:
  • Adductor spasmodic dysphonia—spasms make muscles stiffen and close
  • Abductor spasmodic dysphonia—spasms make muscles spastically open
  • Mixed spasmodic dysphonia
Throat
Throat
Spasmodic dysphonia affects the throat muscles.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

SD is caused by a problem with the central nervous system. The areas of the brain that control these muscle movements are deep within the brain.

Risk Factors

SD is more common in women and people who are between 30 and 50 years of age.
Other things that may raise the risk are:

Symptoms

Problems may be:
  • Squeaky, strained speech
  • No speech at all
  • Speech with the wrong pitch and tone
  • Breaks in speech
  • A breathy voice

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
You may be referred to a team of specialists, such as:
  • Neurologist—to evaluate your brain function
  • Speech pathologist—to evaluate your speech and how it’s produced
  • Otolaryngologist—to evaluate your vocal cords

Treatment

There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
  • Speech therapy
  • Medicines to relax the muscles needed to speak
  • Devices to help with communication
  • Counseling to learn to cope with SD
People who are not helped by other methods may need surgery to cut or remove a nerve that is connected to the vocal cords.

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent SD.

RESOURCES

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
http://www.asha.org
National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association
http://www.dysphonia.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
http://www.osla.on.ca
Speech-Language and Audiology Canada
http://sac-oac.ca

References

Hintze JM, Ludlow CL, et al. Spasmodic dysphonia: A revie. Part 1: Pathogenic factors. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;157(4):551-557.
Hintze JM, Ludlow CL, et al. Spasmodic dysphonia: A revie. Part 2:Characterization of pathophysiology. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;157(4):558-564.
Spasmodic dysphonia. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: https://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/spasmodic-dysphonia. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Spasmodic dysphonia. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/Pages/spasdysp.aspx. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Spasmodic dysphonia. National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association website. Available at: https://dysphonia.org/voice-conditions/spasmodic-dysphonia. Accessed January 26, 2021.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2020
  • Update Date: 01/26/2021
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