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Muscle Tension Dysphonia Defined

Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) is a condition characterized by changes in voice quality in the absence of vocal fold or laryngeal pathology. MTD occurs when the muscles of the voice box strain or become tense. This, in turn, creates an imbalance that alters the vibration of the vocal folds.

It is likely that a large number of patients suffering from chronic cough have underlying MTD although the exact number is not known. MTD tends to affect more women than men.

Symptoms of MTD include raspy voice, voice that gives out or becomes weak, changes in pitch, difficulty talking or singing. Other signs can include sensation of throat tightness or a lump in the throat. Symptoms can occur very quickly and last short periods of time or can become chronic.

Symptoms can be triggered by talking, exercise, stress or exposure to allergens and/or irritants.  

The diagnosis of MTD requires a good clinical history, perceptual evaluation of the voice, and visualization of the voice box by a voice specialist or speech pathologist.  

Treatment of MTD often consists of voice therapy. Botox injections can be considered for severe cases.

Learn more about chronic cough syndrome.