A lot of things don't work all that well as we get older. Sometimes these things are treatable and sometimes they aren't. One of those changes can happen to the voice. The technical term is dysphonia. And it means a decreased ability to produce a normal sounding voice. The not so technical term is "a voice that sounds like an old person's voice." You know what I'm talking about. Sometimes I'm talking with a new patient on the phone and even though they are 80 they sound like a 30 year old. They don't have dysphonia. So what causes dysphonia? And what can you do to keep your voice young even as you grow old? A new study offers some answers.
The authors enrolled a group of 320 men and women with dysphonia. The average age was 72. They were looking to see what problems were more than likely to be associated with developing dysphonia with age. Here's what they found.
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The researchers found that being underweight slightly increased the odds. Being in poor health doubled the odds. And having chronic lung disease increased the odds by 250%. But the biggest risk factor by far was having abnormal thyroid function. That increased the odds by more than 300%. By the way, many people who have low thyroid function have the same kind of symptoms that are often associated with aging. I'm talking about constipation, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, etc.
So if you are noticing that your voice is starting to sound old, and you aren't underweight, and are in reasonable health, it may be your thyroid. And remember that many cases of low thyroid function will be missed by blood testing. The only way to be really sure about whether or not you have low thyroid function is to check your metabolism. Thyroid hormone controls the metabolism. If your thyroid hormone function is too low, your metabolism will reflect that. Checking the metabolism is the only accurate way to test for low thyroid function. You can find a list of doctors who have the equipment needed to check their patients' metabolism at www.bioenergytesting.com.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Ryu CH, Han S, et al. Voice Changes in Elderly Adults: Prevalence and the Effect of Social, Behavioral, and Health Status on Voice Quality. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Jul 3.