Besides physiological causes, a voice change can be a symptom of voice straining, smoking, trauma to the neck, cancer, and more.
Your voice may change in many situations. Some situations are physiological. For example, for boys hitting puberty, voice change is a part of their natural process because of the lengthening of the vocal cords.
Voice change may occur due to acute or long-standing pathology. Some causes may be harmless, whereas some may indicate a severe health problem.
Voice change can be a symptom of the following conditions:
- Cold and allergies
- Straining your voice such as in teachers, public speakers, and protestors
- Thyroid issues
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Acute laryngitis
- Severe or chronic laryngitis
- Benign vocal cord lesions such as warts, polyps, and nodules
- Nervous system diseases such as bulbar palsy and stroke
- Laryngeal cancer
- Upper respiratory infection
- Vocal fold paralysis
- Muscle tension dysphonia
- Psychological stress
- Neurological disorders
- Habitual screaming
- Scarring from a neck injury or from a trauma to the front of the neck
What are the developmental causes of voice change?
Puberty that causes voice change
Puberty is sexual maturation that occurs in girls and boys between 10 and 14 and between 12 and 16 years of age, respectively.
Puberty can cause many physical changes in boys and girls. One of the changes includes voice change. For example, a boy’s voice can suddenly drop about an octave lower, whereas a girl’s voice changes because they mature but to a less extent.
Aging that causes voice change
Once you age, the flexibility of your voice box lowers.
Some of the changes that cause voice change as you age may include:
- The joint in the larynx stiffens, and the cartilage calcifies.
- The vocal cords may lose muscle tone, flexibility, and elasticity.
- Muscles of the larynx can become thinner and weaker.
- Ribs may become more calcified.
- The torso may shrink, and your lungs may shrink and become stiffer.
Sometimes, the age-related decline in overall health status may cause a change in voice.
Some of the medical conditions that lead to voice change include:
When can voice change be dangerous?
Voice change can be alarming if it lasts for about three weeks or more.
You should contact your healthcare provider if you have the following symptoms:
- A lump in your neck
- Swelling over the thyroid gland (front of the neck)
- Cannot speak at all for more than a few days
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain when speaking
- Pain when swallowing
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Acid reflux along with voice change
How can you rejuvenate your voice?
Voice change can be sometimes daunting, causing you to isolate yourself. Your social life deteriorates because it is difficult to convey yourself, affecting your quality of life. However, you can overcome these issues by consulting a voice specialist, laryngologist, or speech pathologist.
Some of the therapies to rejuvenate your voice include:
- Voice rest: It is important to give your vocal cords a rest for at least a week and allow them to recover. This is often the best therapy for voice overuse and voice fatigue.
- Voice rehabilitation therapy: A voice rehabilitation session can do wonders. Try to strengthen voice production by daily voice exercises. A voice specialist can suggest exercises to improve your voice quality.
- Vocal cord microsurgery: This procedure is intended to treat vocal cord lesions such as polyps or cysts.
- Vocal fold injections: These injections can plump up the vocal cords.
- Voice implants: Implants are intended to stabilize your vocal cords.
Voice change caused by different reasons can be treated in the following ways: