Spasmodic dysphonia, also referred to as laryngeal dystonia, is a voice disorder that occurs because of the involuntary movements of one or more muscles of the larynx or voice box. Those with the condition may have occasional difficulty saying a word or two or they may experience sufficient difficulty to interfere with communication. The condition can make the voice to break. The voice disorder causes the voice to break or to have a tight, strained or strangled quality.
Spasmodic dysphonia may run in families and is thought to be inherited. Studies have identified a possible gene on chromosome 9 that may contribute to the spasmodic dysphonia. In some individuals, the voice symptoms begin following an upper respiratory infection, injury to the larynx, a long period of voice use, or stress.
As of now, there is no cure for spasmodic dysphonia. The treatment approaches that are being used only help reduce the symptoms of this voice disorder. Voice therapy may reduce some symptoms, especially in mild cases. An operation that cuts one of the nerves of the vocal folds (the recurrent laryngeal nerve) has improved the voice of many for several months to several years but the improvement is often temporary. The botox injections are sometimes a part of first line treatment; these improve the voice for a period of three to four months. These are to be given again to maintain a good speaking voice.
Some patients may benefit from psychological counselling which help them accept and live with their voice problem. Job counselling is another option to help patients select a line of work more compatible with their speaking limitations.
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