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Conditions We Treat: Muscle Tension Dysphonia

Muscle tension dysphonia is a change in the sound or the feel of your voice due to excessive muscle tension in and around the voice box. This tension prevents the voice from working efficiently. Muscle tension dysphonia is a pattern of muscle use that can develop during laryngitis and remain even after swelling of the vocal cords has gone. It can also be caused by stress and can co-occur with other diagnoses.

Muscle Tension Dysphonia: What You Need to Know

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  • Muscle tension dysphonia generally causes the voice to sound rough, hoarse, gravelly, raspy, weak, breathy, airy, like a whisper, strained, pressed, squeezed, tight or tense.
  • Other symptoms include voice that suddenly cuts out, breaks off, changes pitch, or fades away, voice that "gives out" or becomes weaker the longer the voice is used, pitch that is too high or too low, difficulty singing notes that used to be easy, pain or tension in the throat when speaking or singing, and feeling like the throat is tired when speaking or singing.
  • Treatment of muscle tension dysphonia usually involves voice therapy.

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Why Choose Johns Hopkins for Muscle Tension Dysphonia?

Johns Hopkins Voice Center Doctors

Our Physicians


Rely on the expertise of our physicians to treat muscle tension dysphonia.

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Our Services


The Johns Hopkins Voice Center has a team of expert speech language pathologists who work with muscle tension dysphonia patients who need voice therapy.

Learn more about voice therapy.
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Our Patient Education


Dr. Lee Akst, Director of the Johns Hopkins Voice Center, answers some of the most frequently asked questions.

Watch our Voice Center FAQ video.

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