As you age, you may notice that your voice changes, making it more difficult to produce sound and to be understood by others.
This is caused by layers of the vocal fold thinning, preventing them from vibrating normally. Thinner vocal folds cause a "breathy" voice, which is caused by air escaping. This, in turn, may cause you to be tired at the end of a long conversation or tire easily in a loud environment.
- Weak voice
- Breathy voice
- Tiring during conversation
- Changes in pitch
Research has shown that as we age, the connections between the nerves that control the vocal cords begin to weaken.
This reduces the efficiency of the vocal fold system and leads to a weaker voice.
Treatment and management
- Voice therapy. A trained speech language pathologist teaches an individual how to efficiently use the vocal folds to make sound. This does not change the structure of the vocal folds, but may help to optimize vocal fold function.
- Vocal cord injection. This procedure "bulks up" the vocal cords by adding filler to the deep layer of the vocal folds, reversing the thinning process that lead to voice changes and weakness. This procedure can be performed in our offices or the operating room. The results of this procedure are not permanent; they can last anywhere from several months to several years.
- Thyroplasty. This procedure is performed in the operating room in which the vocal fold is physically moved closer to the opposing vocal fold to help produce sound. This also helps compensate for the thinning of the vocal folds.
Not all voice changes in the aging population are due to natural causes. Voice changes can also be caused by conditions such as laryngeal cancer or vocal cord paralysis. These conditions are often misdiagnosed as "changes with aging," delaying necessary treatment.
Our team has the expertise and experience to give an accurate diagnosis every time. If you have noticed voice changes, it is important to be evaluated by a laryngologist. Call our experts for an evaluation at 714-456-7017 or request an appointment online ›