What is Muscle Tension Dysphonia?
Muscle Tension Dysphonia is vocal hoarseness that is not due to changes to the tissue of the vocal cords. It is associated with excessive muscular tension or inappropriate use of the muscles around and above the vocal cords.
What are the symptoms?
The onset of Muscle Tension Dysphonia can be very subtle. Muscle Tension Dysphonia may be characterised by:
- Rough, hoarse or raspy voice
- Breathy or husky voice
- Reduced vocal volume
- Changes to voice pitch
- Pain or discomfort in the throat
- A tight ‘choking’ sensation when using voice
- A feeling of a ‘lump’ in the throat
- Increase fatigue and effort associated with increased voice use
What causes Muscle Tension Dysphonia?
The cause of Muscle Tension Dysphonia is not completely understood. It is likely that more than one factor contributes to changes in the vocal mechanism leading to Muscle Tension Dysphonia. Some possible causes include:
- Irritants such as upper respiratory tract infection, passive smoking, acid reflux
- Prolonged illness
- Prolonged overuse of voice
- Excessive stress
- Trauma – such as injury, chemical exposure or an emotionally traumatic event.
What treatments are available?
An Ear, Nose and Throat doctor will examine your vocal cord function to determine diagnosis. Voice therapy offered by a Speech Pathologist is the preferred management option for the treatment of muscle tension dysphonia. A personalised treatment plan will depend on the severity of the dysphonia and the cause. Therapy may include voice exercises and strategies for effective voice use and reduction of muscle tension. If acid reflux has contributed to the development of Muscle Tension Dysphonia, your GP or ENT doctor can advise you about the appropriate course of treatment.