Spasmodic dysphonia

Alternative Names

Dysphonia – spasmodic

Definition of Spasmodic dysphonia

Spasmodic dysphonia is difficulty speaking due to spasms (dystonia) of the muscles that control the vocal cords.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

In the past, spasmodic dysphonia was thought to be caused by a psychological, instead of a physical problem. However, many people now believe that it stems from a problem in the brain and nervous system. The vocal cord muscles spasm, causing the vocal cords to get too close or too far apart while people with the condition are using their voice.

Symptoms

The voice is usually hoarse or grating. It may waver and pause. The voice may sound strained or strangled, and it may seem as if the speaker has to use extra effort (known as adductor dysphonia).

Treatment

Patients with spasmodic dysphonia should see an ear, nose, and throat doctor to check for changes in the vocal cords and other brain or nervous system problems.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/16/2010

Central nervous system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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