Aging Voice

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

At UT Southwestern Medical Center, specialists in our Voice Center have advanced training in all types of voice disorders. We provide expert evaluation and treatment for the aging voice to restore a stronger, more youthful sound.

Expert Treatment for the Aging Voice

As people get older, the larynx (voice box), vocal folds (cords), and voice-producing mechanism age along with the rest of the body. Age-related voice changes develop as muscle and other tissues in the larynx and vocal cords shrink, thin, and stiffen.

Our multidisciplinary team in the Voice Center includes fellowship-trained laryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors with specialized training in disorders of the larynx), speech-language pathologists with training specifically in voice care, and singing-voice specialists. We evaluate symptoms of the aging voice using the latest technology and provide advanced treatment to minimize the effects of aging on the voice.

Causes of Aging Voice

Age-related voice changes vary widely, and people can begin to “sound old” in their 50s, while others retain a resonant voice well into their 80s. The normal aging process can affect the larynx and vocal cords in several ways:

  • Atrophy (shrinkage) of muscle
  • Thinning of mucous membranes
  • Stiffening of connective tissues

Symptoms of Aging Voice

An aging voice shows signs that often include:

  • Higher pitch in men
  • Lower pitch in women
  • Loss of projection and resonance
  • Reduced volume and endurance
  • Voice tremors (shakiness)
  • Weak or breathy voice

Diagnosing Aging Voice

At UT Southwestern’s Voice Center, our experienced voice specialists conduct a thorough evaluation, which includes a:

  • Physical exam, with an inspection of the larynx
  • Review of personal and family medical history
  • Discussion of symptoms

To examine the vocal cords and larynx, we often use one or more instruments, such as a:

  • Flexible laryngoscope: A narrow, flexible tube with a light and camera, inserted through the nose
  • Rigid laryngoscope: A narrow, rigid viewing tube inserted through the mouth
  • Videostroboscope: A camera with a flashing light that provides a slow-motion view of the vocal cords as they vibrate

We sometimes order additional tests, such as:

  • Laryngeal electromyography (EMG): Small needles inserted through the skin into voice box muscles to measure their electric currents
  • Sound (acoustic) analysis: Computer analysis that identifies abnormalities in the sounds produced by the vocal cords

Treatments for Aging Voice

After our evaluation, we develop a treatment plan to help strengthen the speaking voice. At the Voice Center, our team offers:

  • Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections to reduce vocal tremor
  • In-office temporary filler injections to enlarge vocal cords that have lost muscle tone
  • Longer-lasting fat injections that use fat from the abdomen to enlarge the vocal cords
  • Thyroplasty, a surgical procedure to place implants into the vocal cords for a stronger voice
  • Voice therapy with exercises prescribed by our speech-language pathology team to reduce throat strain, improve vocal stamina, and find the optimal pitch and volume

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