Published on October 31, 2017

Keep Your Voice Young

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Just like other parts of your body, your voice ages. Typically, a man’s voice rises, while a woman’s voice gets lower. Your voice can also become softer or scratchier, it can waver and if you talk for too long, you simply lose your voice. This can impact your ability to work, socialize and speak on the phone or in front of a group.

In order for your voice to sound strong and stable, your two vocal cords need to touch and vibrate. However, as you get older, your vocal cords decrease in volume and strength, which can cause too much space between the vocal cords. In addition, as you get older and your respiratory system changes, it can mean there is less air in your body to give strength to your voice.

Luckily, there are ways you can try and restore the quality and health of your voice. Most people are first encouraged to try voice therapy with a speech language pathologist, which teaches you breathing techniques and how to use your muscles when you’re talking. Here are a few tips that you might receive during voice therapy that you can try at home:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Read out loud and sing along with the radio.
  • Write down short phrases that you commonly say, and try saying them in different volumes, tones and pitches.

Also avoid shouting, excessive coughing and throat clearing. Add humidity to your work and sleep areas, especially in the winter. If you develop laryngitis as a result of an upper respiratory infection, do not try and push through it. Instead, baby your voice and limit talking.

While voice changes are common, especially in those ages 50 and older, you should see your doctor if you’ve noticed vocal changes that have not gone away within a week or two. Before beginning voice therapy with a speech language pathologist, you should be examined by an otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat doctor, to determine the exact cause of your voice problem.

Cindy Ruble, M.A., C.C.C.-S.L.P., is a speech language pathologist at MyMichigan Health.