by Cresse M

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. Words are strangled and strained or they don’t get out at all. Sounds are also distorted.
The main types of SD include:
  • Adductor spasmodic dysphonia—spasms cause muscles to stiffen and close
  • Abductor spasmodic dysphonia—spasms cause muscles to spastically open
  • Mixed spasmodic dysphonia
Throat
Throat
Spasmodic dysphonia affects the throat muscles.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Often, the exact cause of SD is unknown. It is a disorder of the central nervous system. The areas of the brain that control these muscle movements are deep within the brain.

Risk Factors

This condition is more common in women and people who are between 30 and 50 years of age.
Factors that may increase your chance of developing SD include:
  • Degenerative brain diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Another movement disorder such as tardive dyskinesia
  • Family history of SD—In some families, a gene on chromosome 9 may be connected to SD.
  • Brain infection such as encephalitis
  • Exposure to toxins or certain medications such as phenothiazines

Symptoms

Symptoms of SD include:
  • Squeaky, strained speech
  • No speech at all
  • Speech with the wrong pitch and tone
  • Breaks in speech
  • Breathy voice

Diagnosis

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

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
  • Medication—to increase dopamine, a chemical in the brain that influences muscle movement
  • Botulinum toxin injections—to reduce muscle spasms
  • Speech therapy techniques—to relax muscles
  • Brain stimulation—to prevent muscles from freezing and going into spasm
  • Counseling—to help deal with the condition
  • Surgery in severe cases—to cut or remove a nerve that is connected to the vocal cords

Prevention

Since the causes are unknown, it is difficult 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

Daniilidou, P, Carding P, Wilson, J, Drinnan, M, Deary, V. Cognitive behavioral therapy for functional dysphonia. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology. 2007;116:717-722.

Diagnosis. National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association website. Available at: http://www.dysphonia.org/diagnosis.php. Accessed November 26, 2014.

Rosow DE, Parikh P, et al. Considerations for initial dosing of botulinum toxin in treatment of adductor spasmodic dysphonia. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013; 148(6):1003-6.

Spasmodic dysphonia. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/SpasmodicDysphonia.htm. Accessed November 26, 2014.

Spasmodic dysphonia. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/Pages/spasdysp.aspx. Updated October 2010. Accessed November 26, 2014.

Revision Information

Health Library Search

Only show results from the selected categories.











Foreign accent syndrome (FAS) is a rare speech disorder. If you have FAS, you adopt what sounds like a foreign accent, even though you may never have traveled to that par...

3 Dysarthria condition

Dysarthria is a speech disorder. It differs from aphasia , which is a language disorder....

4 Apraxia condition

Apraxia happens when you are unable to do learned movements or signals. You may have the desire and the physical ability to do the movements, but you cannot. There are ma...

5 Loss of Voice condition

Loss of voice (also called aphonia) may take several different forms. You may have a partial loss of your voice and it may sound hoarse. Or, you may have complete loss of...

Aphasia occurs when a person loses the ability to communicate in words. Anomia is a problem naming objects. When you have aphasia-associated anomia, it is difficult to na...

7 Alexic Anomia condition

Alexic anomia happens when you lose your ability to understand written words. You can no longer read and name words. This is a type of aphasia , which is a language disor...

8 Aphasia condition

Aphasia is a communication disorder. People with aphasia may have difficulty with the expression and/or understanding of language, as well as reading and writing....

10 Dyslexia condition

Dyslexia is a disability that can hinder a person’s ability to read, write, and spell. It is a common learning disability in children and lasts throughout life. The sever...

11 Kids Get Headaches Too lifestyle - kids' & teens' health

While most people associate headaches with adulthood, kids get headaches too. Read here to find out more....

12 Easing a Headache the Natural Way lifestyle - alternative health

How can you stop the pounding of a tension headache if you don't want to take medication? See our tips for drug-free headache relief....

13 Sexual Headaches: From Ecstasy to Agony lifestyle - sexuality & health
14 What to Do When Your Child Has a Nosebleed lifestyle - kids' & teens' health

Nosebleeds can happen in an instant, and children are the ones most likely to get them. Here is how to handle them....

15 Nosebleed condition

Nosebleed refers to blood flowing from the nose or nasal passage. There are two types of nosebleeds:...

16 Sinus Headache condition

Sinus headache refers to head and facial pain associated with congestion, inflammation, or infection of the sinuses (sinusitis). The sinuses are hollow cavities in the sk...