NORD gratefully acknowledges H A Jinnah, MD, PhD, Professor, Departments of Neurology, Human Genetics, & Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, for assistance in the preparation of this report.
Laryngeal dystonia (LD) is a chronic voice disorder characterized by momentary periods of uncontrolled spasms of the muscles of the voice box (larynx). These muscles control speech. The spasms can result in tightness in the throat, recurrent hoarseness, and changes in voice quality and/or difficulty speaking. At certain times, affected individuals must make a conscious effort in order to speak. The most frequent sign of this disorder is a sudden, momentary lapse or interruption of the voice. When affected individuals speak, their voice may sound strained, forced, strangled, breathy, or whispery. In severe cases, an affected individual may be barely able to speak. LD can potentially cause significant quality of life issues for affected individuals impacting both work and social situations. The disorder can cause psychological effects including depression and anxiety. There is no cure for LD, but the disorder can be effectively treated. The cause of LD is not known.
Laryngeal dystonia is a form of dystonia, a group of movement disorders that vary in their symptoms, causes, progression, and treatments. This group of conditions is generally characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that force the body in abnormal, sometimes painful, movements and positions (postures). LD is classified as a focal dystonia because it affects a specific part of the body (muscles within the voice box). LD is also known as spasmodic dysphonia.
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