Why a person's voice changes with age: ligaments lifetime

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Singing daily can slow the aging of the voice

Changes in the body with age affect voice as well. Its tone changes, it becomes hoarse and more "dry" in sound. But is it possible to stop the aging of the voice?

Adam Taylor from the Center for Clinical Anatomy Training at Lancaster University spoke about it in an article for BBC Future. According to him, it is quite possible.

How the voice works

The vocal cords, which provide the sound of the human voice, are made up of muscle and connective tissue. Between these very elastic formations there is a gap called the laryngeal cleft.

When air comes out of the lungs, the vocal cords come into motion under its pressure. They move closer together, stretch and vibrate. This is how the sound of the voice appears. But this is not the only function of this organ. They also protect the bronchi and lungs from foreign objects.

The position of the ligaments and the strength of their tension are also influenced by about 17 muscles located in the larynx. They help to modify the sound.

How the voice is formed in women and men

We are all born with the same ligaments, but already during puberty they take a different path in women and men. This process is influenced by hormones. Thus, in boys, the structure of the larynx changes, the Adam's apple increases and the length of the vocal cords grows. On the contrary, it thinning by 20-30% in women. When the process of maturation ends, the length of the ligament on average is about 16 mm in young men and 10 mm in women. This is the reason for the difference in voice height.

However, the influence of hormones on the voice continues even after puberty. Thus, in women it can change under the influence of the menstrual cycle. Its best quality is achieved during ovulation. At this stage of the cycle, the glands produce more mucus and thus improves the function of the vocal cords. Conversely, birth control pills that block ovulation worsen voice quality in women.

Woman's body hormones make the ligaments stiffer just before menstruation. Therefore, in the 1960s, opera singers were given extra rest during this period to prevent them from damaging their ligaments. Since this organ is thinner in women, it is easier to damage it due to overwork.

How the voice ages

Almost all parts of the human body change with age. This also applies to the ligaments. However, this process does not happen in the same way for everyone.

Over time, the mineral content of the human larynx increases in the structure, which makes the cartilage tissue more rigid and similar to bone. Consequently, the flexibility of the vocal cords suffers as well.

Age-related changes also affect the muscles that drive them. They become weaker and lose elasticity. So do the tissues that support the vocal cords. Of course, the lung muscles also undergo changes, as they are no longer able to create such a powerful flow of air to create sound. The number of glands that produce protective mucus also decreases. Thus, the ability to control your throat decreases and your voice changes.

How to slow down the aging of the voice

Some of our habits can accelerate the processes in the larynx that affect the voice. This applies in particular to smoking. It can cause localized inflammation and increased mucus production. But at the same time, tobacco smoke can dry out the mucosa. Alcohol also acts in a similar way.

Certain medications can also have a certain effect. For example, steroidal anti-inflammatory inhalations, which can be prescribed for laryngitis. Blood thinners can affect the vocal cords and cause the formation of polyps. The voice of those who take them may become hoarse or sharp. Muscle relaxants is another group of drugs that affect the sound. They can cause acid from the stomach to enter the larynx, irritate the ligaments and change them. As a rule, after stopping the use of drugs, the voice returns to normal.

Ligaments can also wear out due to excessive use. This problem can happen to singers, lecturers and other people who use their voice a lot. They can even develop a condition called Reinke's edema. It can also be triggered by smoking. Because of Reinke's edema, fluid builds up in the vocal cords and they begin to sound lower. Serious cases of this condition even need surgery to drain the fluid. In most cases, though, rest and avoiding the influence of stimuli can be enough. Speech therapy can help as well.

Keeping your voice in good shape will help with regular use. Like any muscle, the ligaments require regular exercise. This explains, for example, why singers undergo significantly less voice change with age.

You can train the ligaments by singing or reading aloud every day. This will be enough to slow down the decline in their performance. For those who want to preserve the voice, doctors recommend drinking enough water, as well as reduce alcohol consumption and give up smoking.

Earlier OBOZREVATEL wrote what simple habit can help to keep the body healthy and prolong life.

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