You’ve been singing for years, and you’ve had a great career. But recently, something’s changed. You’re not hitting the high notes like you used to be able to, or maybe you can’t project your voice as far as you used to. Don’t be alarmed. Your voice may just be changing because you’re getting older.
As our bodies age, they lose muscle mass. Mucous membranes become thin and dry. We also lose some fine motor coordination. These changes happen all over our bodies, including our larynges. Some doctors also believe collagen levels in the larynx deplete as we age, too. All these changes can make it difficult for the vocal folds to close completely and/or to vibrate as easily and in a controlled manner. As a result, the strength, quality, and/or stamina of our voices can change.
As they age, men might hear their voices becoming higher pitched, while women might hear theirs go lower. It also becomes more difficult to project the voice, it may be more difficult to be heard in noisy situations, and it may be tougher to speak for long periods of time. People may also notice tremors in their voices.
That said, hoarseness and other vocal changes aren’t just due to aging. They could be a sign of a more serious condition. So, any changes in voice quality or function that don’t resolve on their own in two weeks should be evaluated by an ENT doctor.
However, if you maintain good vocal health you can keep your voice strong. Do warm-ups and cool-downs before a singing performance and minimize unnecessary voice use. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water and minimizing caffeine. Make sure to get plenty of sleep so your whole body is well rested, including your voice. Avoid traumatic behavior like regular throat clearing, yelling, or talking loudly over background noise.
Voice therapy is typically the first line of treatment for voice problems associated with the natural aging process, CEENTA Voice & Swallowing Specialist Lori Ellen Sutton, MA, CCC-SLP, said. A speech-language pathologist that specializes in voice disorders, like the ones in the CEENTA Voice & Swallowing Center, can help you develop an exercise regimen to strengthen your voice. In more severe cases, a procedure that helps improve vocal fold closure may be indicated.
None of us can stop aging, but with a little effort we can keep our voices strong and healthy no matter how old we are.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To make an appointment with a CEENTA Voice & Swallowing Specialist, call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart. In-person and virtual visit appointments are available.