Spasmodic Dysphonia is a voice disorder that can occur to any people at any age. At the time of speaking, air from the lungs pushed between to vocal cords which stretch from the front of your throat to the end vibrate to produce your voice. Due to involuntary movements or spasms of the voice box muscles, normal voice or Dysphonia gets interrupted in “abrupt spurts” resulting in a strained, strangled voice; with breathy, soundless voice; or with a mixture of both known as Spasmodic Dysphonia.

Types of Spasmodic Dysphonia

Spasmodic Dysphonia is a neurological disorder caused by involuntary movement of the vocal folds during voice production. SD only affects voice. The other functions of voice box such as swallowing, breathing remain unaffected. Spasmodic Dysphonia is of three types:

Type 1: Adductor SD: about 80-95% people suffer from this type of Spasmodic Dysphonia. Often the vocal folds come together tightly at the wrong time during speech and produce strained and strangled breaks during speaking. People also find difficulty in starting a speech.

Type 2: Abductor SD: If the vocal folds move apart or open at the wrong time during speech, air gets leaked and produces breathy or soundless breaks during speaking. This type of SD causes voice to sound weak.

Type 3: Combination of abductor and adductor SD: Vocal folds undergo both strained, strangled breaks and breathy or soundless breaks.

Symptoms of Spasmodic Dysphonia

Symptoms of Type 1 SD include:

  • Strained, strangled voice
  • Voice cuts out while speaking
  • Certain sounds are more difficult to say than others
  • Other perceive the person to be “emotional”
  •  Increased effort in speaking

Symptoms of Type 2 SD include:

  • Breathy voice
  • Soundless breaks in voice
  • Voice cuts out while speaking
  • Increased effort in speaking

Cause of Spasmodic Dysphonia

Spasmodic Dysphonia occurs due to an abnormality with the nervous system which may cause the vocal cords to spasm. It is assumed that Spasmodic Dysphonia is a form of dystonia, a neurological condition that affects muscle tone.

However, it is assumed that SD occurs due to some anomaly in the basal ganglia, a part of the brain that controls movement. The brainstem, which connects the brain to the spinal cord, may also be involved in causing SD.

Diagnosis of Spasmodic Dysphonia

Diagnosis of SD includes physical examination, Speech- language Pathology Evaluation, Laryngoscopy and Neurologic Evaluation.

The doctor first takes note of the symptoms and then suggest for some evaluation. Speech-language pathologists can evaluate voice disorder listening to different voice and speech patterns. Sometimes acoustic and aerodynamic measurements are used to evaluate voice characteristics.

Laryngoscopy enables the doctor to visualize the vocal folds during speech and observe spasm to diagnose spasmodic Dysphonia. Fibreoptic nasolaryngoscopy, a thin, flexible, lighted tube is inserted through one of the nostrils down the throat to look at the vocal cords while you speak.

Treatment of Spasmodic Dysphonia

Treatment of spasmodic Dysphonia depends upon age, overall health condition and severity of symptoms.

In most cases, the doctors suggest for speech therapy to improve muscle control and correct breathing. This helps in speaking more clearly.

Regular injections of Botulinum toxin (Botox) into the affected muscles also improves muscle control. But this procedure is to be repeated time to time.

Surgery is not usually recommended by doctors as surgery on vocal cords incurs some risk of permanent damage.

About CURA

Equipped with all the modern tools and equipments, CURA Multispeciality Hospital offers the most effective treatments for all kinds of ENT disorders. The renowned doctors and therapists are extremely proficient in diagnosing and treating Spasmodic Dysphonia with utmost satisfaction of the patients.