Here's What Causes Your Voice To Change As You Age

We use our voice every day to communicate our thoughts and ideas to others. Our voices are pretty important tools throughout our lives. When we speak, our voices are first powered by the breath, and our vocal cords vibrate to create a sound, according to My Health Alberta. The sound then resonates from either the mouth or nose. People's voices are different depending on the size, shape, and tension of their vocal cords. The pitch, quality, and loudness of your voice can change depending on your feelings, allergies, air temperature, and your hydration levels. You might have noticed your voice is much different from the time you first learned to talk. Your voice will also change as you get older.

The condition that causes these vocal changes is called presbyphonia or presbylaryngis, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Just as the muscles of our body lose stamina as we age, our vocal cords are muscles that also weaken over time. This can cause gaps between our vocal cords while we speak, so other muscles of the throat constrict to compensate. It can cause your voice to become softer as it takes more effort to project your voice. According to Duke Health, women's voices can become deeper in pitch, and men's pitch can get higher. Presbyphonia can also cause the voice to become shaky.

How to protect your voice as you age

To keep your voice healthy as you get older, Duke Health suggests drinking enough water to moisturize your larynx and keep it flexible. Caffeine, smoking, and alcohol can dry out your throat, but fruits and vegetables with high water content like melons and cucumbers can help keep it moist. Exercise also helps with your stamina and posture, and will help with age-related voice problems. Your voice also needs exercise, so be sure to socialize or sing in the shower to keep your vocal cords active.

Asthma, allergies, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) can affect your voice because they affect your breathing. Voice therapy can improve your breathing so it can power your voice. It can also reduce the strain while speaking and help you find the right pitch for speaking so it doesn't take as much effort. Phonation resistance training exercises, or PhoRTE, are like HIIT for the voice. Based on the Japanese principles of Kintsugi, PhoRTE encourages abdominal breathing to improve airflow and vocal cord closure. According to Duke Health, some people might choose surgical procedures such as injectable fillers in their vocal cords or implants in their voice box to help the vocal cords open and close more efficiently.