Keeping Your Voice Young

October 18, 2018

Aging can take a toll on your voice. That’s because the tissues within the larynx, including the vocal folds that vibrate to produce sound, become thinner over time, changing the sound of your voice. 

Vocal issues can make older people feel more isolated and even lead to depression, says Columbia otolaryngologist Michael Pitman, MD. 

“If you can’t be heard, or you have to struggle to be heard, it becomes such an effort to be part of the conversation that you may just give up,” Pitman says. 

Just as you would exercise to strengthen or build muscle, there are things you can do to fortify the vocal folds and reverse some of the effects of aging on your voice. 

In this video, Columbia voice therapist Kimberly Duncan demonstrates a few exercises that are used to strengthen the voice. 

Keeping Your Voice Young

If voice therapy isn’t effective, patients can have a minimally invasive procedure to plump up the vocal folds.   

“We all deserve to live a full and enjoyable life, and if your voice is keeping you from that, it’s worth it to try something to make yourself what you want to be,” Pitman says.

Michael J. Pitman, MD, is associate professor of otolaryngology--head & neck surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Kimberly Duncan, MA, is a speech-language pathologist and voice specialist at Columbia’s Voice and Swallowing Institute.