Respiratory dystonia can affect breathing

In rare occurrences, individuals have reported difficulty breathing. While this is not a voice disorder, breathing difficulty has been reported in those with SD. Dystonias like laryngeal dystonia or a diaphragmatic dystonia can include breathing issues. That’s why this topic is included under voice disorders.

Laryngeal dystonia is a neurological condition affecting the larynx associated either with voice disturbance or, much less commonly, with breathing disturbance or, yet more infrequently, with both. The voice disturbance is referred to as spasmodic dysphonia. The breathing manifestation is called respiratory dystonia. Laryngeal dystonia much more commonly affects the voice rather than breathing, but occasionally it affects only breathing, or both breathing and voice.

Respiratory difficulties are sometimes reported by patients with other forms of dystonia, Diaphragmatic dystonia is the involuntary, sustained, or sudden contraction of the diaphragm manifested as prolonged spasms. There has been very little published literature on disorders involving respiratory dystonia and resulting breathing problems.

Individuals afflicted with respiratory dystonia may have difficulty inhaling air through a glottis closed by adductory spasms, or may be able to inhale without difficulty but then to find it hard to breathe out, essentially becoming the victim of involuntary breath-holding.

In some cases, botulinum toxin has been found to alleviate a laryngeal based respiratory dystonia. A largngologist or ENT are the best specialists to see if you suspect a laryngeal-based breathing issue.

If a person has another dystonia and develops a breathing issue, it is important to see a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders.