What causes an aging voice or Presbyphonia or Presbylarynx?
As part of the normal aging process, the muscles that sustain and support our vocal folds (cords), as well as the structure of the larynx (voice box), may alter and change. These changes, that can affect the way we use our voice and the way it sounds, usually occur after age 60.
What are the Symptoms of an Aging Voice?
If you have presbyphonia, you may experience:
- Occasional or frequent breaks in your voice
- Breathy voice
- Tension in the larynx
- Sudden interruptions in normal speech flow
- Reduced highs and lows in vocal range
- Reduced volume
- Vocal fatigue
The severity of symptoms varies from person to person. But even if your symptoms are initially mild, they may worsen over time if you don’t receive the appropriate treatment.
How do we Treat the Aging Voice?
An ENT doctor will first examine the larynx to evaluate the structure and functionality of your vocal folds. Depending on your specific problems, treatment options can include:
- Voice therapy to reduce symptoms; help you project your voice, use more efficiently with less effort
- Injections into the vocal cord
What is Parkinson’s Induced Dysphonia?
It has been estimated that more than 70% of patients with Parkinson’s disease experience voice and speech disorders. Some report that dysphonia, impairment in the ability to speak normally, is one of the disease’s most disruptive symptoms.
People with Parkinson’s induced dysphonia are described as having a harsh, weak or breathy quality to their voices. There are, however, medical and behavioral treatments that may lead to voice improvements. Both vocal chord injections and voice therapy have shown some of the most positive results with the least amount of patient discomfort.
How do we treat Parkinson’s Induced Dysphonia?
Good outcomes have been reported from vocal fold injections of various types, including collagen. Injections seem to increase vocal efficiency for Parkinson’s patients, which may reduce vocal fatigue and provide a useful addition to voice therapy.
Studies of vocal fold injections have been shown to be safe, well tolerated, and as reported by some patients, effective as a temporary method for improving voice and speech.
Injection treatments also result in lower levels of patient stress as they can be safely performed at an office visit.
Voice Therapy Treatment
Studies and patient/doctor observations support that voice therapy can produce significant improvements in overall communication for neurological-based dysphonia, such as Parkinson’s disease.