Your Aging Voice

Your voice can age just as the rest of your body, making you sound older; voice problems can begin as early as age 50. Women’s voices become softer, scratchier and lower whereas men’s pitch goes up. Loud voices are a thing of the past as the loss of diameter in vocal fibers produces a more breathy voice. One of the factors is the loss of muscle mass in the larynx and the stiffening of membranes in the vocal cords. Making things worse, it is the absence of using the voice due to retirement or solo living that can increase the problem. If you don’t use it you will lose it, according to Dr. Stacey Halum, director of Voice Clinic of Indiana. She adds that aging muscles are shrinking but something can be done about it. New treatments on the horizon include injections and fillers to bulk up vocal cords. Implants are being used so vocal cords are closer together. Researchers in Japan are using injections of growth factors to actually regenerate vocal cords. Growing voice boxes with muscle progenitor cells is also being studied. Dr. Halum’s own research with muscle progenitor cells, or stem cells, is taking muscle cells from other parts of the body and injecting then into a different site to increase bulk along with collagen. A goal is to find a permanent injectable. Meanwhile, therapy is a good option. Doing voice exercises to build up muscles of your voice box by talking more and also by singing will be helpful. A workout by a speech language pathologist can make a huge difference. If you have a voice change lasting two weeks or more, a doctor visit is called for; it possibly could be prescription related. It has been found that cancer and Parkinson’s disease are indicative of a voice change. For more information, see article by Andrea Petersen,

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