Harvard Men's Health Watch

Aging voice

Q. As I get older, my voice sounds raspier. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to reverse these changes?

A. Men's voices deepen in the teenage years, but a different kind of change can happen later in life. Doctors call that change presbyphonia, meaning "aging voice." Over time, the vocal cords become drier and have less ability to vibrate at high speeds, which provides the tone in your voice. In addition, air movement from the lungs may diminish because of changes in lung capacity or the shape of the spine. Both of these factors cause the older voice to have a breathier and weaker sound.

Changes in voice with aging are common but not inevitable. Staying physically fit, with good aerobic capacity, keeps air moving past the vocal cords and may lessen changes in voice. You should drink plenty of water and ask your doctor if any of your medications could affect your voice (asthma inhalers are a common culprit). Finally, a voice therapist may be able to retrain and strengthen your speaking voice.

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