Many people experience a change in voice quality as they age. This condition is known as aging voice and can sometimes affect a person’s communication or social interactions. If the condition is frustrating or limiting, possible treatments exist that might reduce symptoms of aging voice.
Identifying the Condition
Someone who may be experiencing aging voice might exhibit symptoms, such as pitch changes, breathy speech, or a weakened voice. The breathy aspect is caused by the escape of air, and the weakened quality is the result of less vibrations in the vocal cords. Some people may find that they are out of breath or slightly fatigued when participating in a conversation because of the effort they put in to being adequately heard.
Aging voice is relatively normal and is the result of the thinning of the vocal folds. However, some changes in voice may be an indication or symptom of other conditions. In some cases of dementia, for example, the nerve function in the area of the vocal cords may be damaged, limiting the ability to produce voice. Other causes may include certain laryngeal cancers or paralysis of the vocal cords. Regardless of the possible cause, a weakened or changed voice should be examined by a laryngologist in order to determine what the diagnosis is and for an appropriate treatment.
Treatment Options for Aging Voice
Several treatment options are available for aging voice. Ranging from noninvasive to surgical, the option that may resolve voice issues depends on the cause of the condition as well as individual patient needs.
The least invasive option for improving voice quality is through voice therapy. A voice therapist teaches exercises and techniques that may produce positive effects on the voice. This process doesn’t involve surgery or any actual physical changes to the vocal cords, and the patient is free to practice whenever and wherever.
A second treatment involves the injection of a material similar to collagen into the vocal cords. This option is considered outpatient. The idea is to create bulk win the thinned areas. If bulkier vocal cords are achieved, then vibrations may be stronger, which could remedy a weakened voice.
Thyroplasty involves a surgical approach. In the procedure, the vocal cords are repositioned for optimal vibration. The close proximity of the vocal cords should improve a weakened voice and restore some of the normal pitch.
Though voice changes later in life can be a normal part of aging, the condition should be evaluated by a professional. This allows the physician to indicate a treatment that could improve voice quality. If symptoms, including breathiness or a weakened voice, are present, an examination may be in order to rule out something more serious. Whether the diagnosis is aging voice or a different health issue, treatment can begin.
Maintaining vocal health is a part of managing everyday activities. From talking with friends and family to interacting with a healthcare provider, speech contributes to effective communication. Experiencing aging voice isn’t something that must be accepted without action. Treatments exist and could help restore better functioning vocal cords.