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Is It Normal to Lose Your Voice As You Age?

Dealing with fatigue and hoarseness with your voice can make even the most casual conversations a taxing part of your day. Extra strain on your vocal fold muscles and the occasional loss of your voice can be a frustrating symptom of aging. However, as difficult as it may seem in the moment, you’re not alone and there are solutions. 

If you’re facing challenges with your vocals and wondering if it’s just par for the course as you age, board-certified otolaryngologist and skilled surgeon Matthew W. Shawl, MD, and our dedicated team located in the Union Square neighborhood of New York City, are here to offer guidance. Whether you’re a singer, actor, teacher, or anyone with a high vocal demand, we specialize in diagnosing and treating an array of voice issues to get you back on track.

In this blog, we’ll help you understand why losing your voice is normal as you age and what you can do about it. Let’s get started! 

Understanding age-related vocal changes 

It’s no surprise that aging brings with it a handful of physical changes that take some getting used to. When it comes to your voice, gradual changes in elasticity, flexibility, and the thinning of your vocal cords can really put a damper on your vocal quality. With time, this leads to that feeling of hoarseness and roughness, even leading to the loss of your voice if you strain too hard. This gradual weakening of your vocal cords can make it difficult to speak and even make swallowing a chore.

Tips and tricks for aging vocals 

Although we understand that vocal challenges can be incredibly frustrating, we encourage you to have patience and navigate this issue with care. The following guide can help you carefully maintain your vocal health, keeping your voice in great shape for everyday use: 

Prioritize hydration 

Staying well-hydrated is crucial for your vocal health. By drinking more water throughout the day, you prevent strain on your vocal cords and ensure they’re flexible and lubricated. We recommend sipping water regularly throughout the day to ensure this. 

Try vocal exercises 

Even if you’re not a singer, simple vocal exercises like lip trills, breathing exercises, and gentle scales can act as a comforting solution for vocal hoarseness, enhancing the strength of your voice. Try practicing various exercises regularly to maintain your voice’s endurance and tone. 

Seek expert care 

If your vocal issues are characterized by pain, difficulty swallowing, sudden hoarseness, or the complete loss of your voice, don’t wait to consult with Dr. Shawl for immediate relief. 

Lifestyle factors and considerations 

Although aging vocal cords are a common concern, there are some lifestyle factors that exacerbate and prolong certain symptoms. Consider if any of the following habits could be contributing to your voice issues: 


This nasty habit can have a detrimental effect on your vocal health over time and make matters worse as you age. The chemicals in tobacco smoke irritate and damage your vocal cords, which leads to a hoarse voice.

Dietary choices 

Believe it or not, even your diet can have a major influence on the overall health and well-being of your voice. For example, consuming excessive caffeine and spicy foods can contribute to acid reflux, which is known to irritate the vocal cords. That’s why we highly recommend maintaining a balanced and reflux-friendly diet. 

Vocal strain

While certain vocal exercises can be helpful, constantly straining your voice through loud talking or singing can expedite voice changes. Be mindful of your vocal habits and avoid unnecessary strain when you can. 

In the end, we hope it brings you some comfort to know that you’re not alone and that experiencing changes in your voice as you age is entirely normal. By understanding the factors at play with your vocal strain and loss, you can start adopting healthier choices and seek help to maintain your vocal health.  

If you’re ready to learn more about vocal issues and treatment options,  contact the office of Matthew W. Shawl, MD, to book a consultation today or book your appointment online.

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