Everybody has sometimes moments where you get stuck in words. A lumb in your throat for example. But the cause of this can also be an disorder that is difficult to recognise. For a long time spasmodic dysphonia was a disease that belonged to the realm of the psychiatrist and was untreatable.
This has changed now. It is not a pschyological problem, but a neurological disorder.
People with spasmodic dysphonia squeeze their voice out; they push and struggle to speak. To evade this struggle they whisper, talk on inhalation, speak with a lower or higher pitched voice or their voice sounds squeeky.
Spasmodic dysphonia treatment
Fortunately there is since the 90’s a treatment for spasmodic dysphonia; injections with Botox through the front of the neck, into the vocal chords. For most people this treatment is very successfull.
Normal voice production comes from air blown through the small openening between the 2 vocal chords. The air from the lungs passes the vocal chords which start to vibrate the air. This vibrating air is then formed with the mouth, lips and tongue into sounds which make words.
For this very complicated procces to happen you need a perfect functional nervous system.
The typical SD sound comes from the fact that the vocal chords close (or open) too much. They spasm in one way; they overreact. Because of this it becomes impossible to speak in a fluent and easy way. People with spasmodic dysphonia can only produce a very distorted sound, or whisper. It is like trying to talk while you are being strangled.
Psycho-genic voice disorder?
For more than a century SD was considered to be an psycho-genic voice disorder. Now it is known as a “laryngeal dystonia”. This means that it is a motoric defect that leads to uncontrolled and undesired high muscles tension in the larynx where the vocal chords reside.
This neurological voice disorder is more frequent with women and useally starts around the age of 40. It starts off with occasionally mild voice discomfort leading to continious voice problems.
This can result in great psychological stress which can lead to other physical problems and discomfort. Stress aggrevates the problems. People with spasmodic dysphonia can end up suffering from social isolation. Especiallly the phone will be avoided.
Spasmodic dysphonia cause
The mechanism behind this extreme muscle tension is still not completely clear but ideas have been formulated. In the vocal chords there are so called “sensory muscle coils” which measure the tension of the muscle. This information is proccessed in the “basal ganglia” a part of the brain responsible for motion and movement. In this area things go wrong; there is too little slowing down of the movement of the muscles or the brain gets too easily excited and activated, it gets hypersensitive. This can cause too much tension of the vocal chord muscles.
Did you get the right diagnosis?
Another problem is receiving the right diagnosis. It is a very rare disorder which is not easily recognised by doctors. The symtoms may vary through time and are task specific. Many people see a lot of doctors, voice specialists, psychiatrists, neurologists and practioners of alternative medicine before the right diagnosis and treatment is offered.
Diagnosis can be made by ear. For people with adductor spasmodic dysphonia it is difficult to start a sentence with a vowel. So “Adam ate allways an apple” can not be said fluently. It comes out choppy or almost stuttering. When you suffer from spasmodic dysphonia your voice sounds normal when you: laugh, cough, yawn, crie, whisper, sing or shout.
Where to go from here?
On the internet there is not much to be found if you want to recover your voice.
I tried and tested everything that is out there because I allways had the feeling, there had to be more then just Botox or surgery.
I searched the whole internet trying to find people who recovered from spasmodic dysphonia, and I did. I visited and spoke with them, and I learned exactly what they did to get results.(*)
On this website I want to share some of the techniques and knowledge I aquired on how to speak easier when you suffer from spasmodic dysphonia(*) .
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