New treatments keep the aging voice spry

New treatments keep the aging voice spry click to enlarge Robert Buckmire, MD

CHAPEL HILL -- Aging baby boomers have long used exercise, surgery and collagen as they try to slow the natural bodily processes of aging.

Now, some are flocking to do the same with something that’s usually a dead giveaway: a voice that sounds “old.”

Research shows that older peoples’ voices often develop breathiness, weakness and loss or range or quality from causes that include disease , changed use of their voices, and the condition called presbylaryngis, also known as “aging of the larynx.”

As the baby boomers grow old, the estimated 30 percent of older North Carolinians with speech disorders will roughly double over the next two decades. Those born between 1946 and 1964 will likely object even more than today’s patients to a lessened ability to speak and be heard clearly, said Dr. Robert Buckmire, a UNC Chapel Hill otolaryngologist. “There’s a significant social cost to not being able to communicate,” said Buckmire, who works with a team that includes speech therapist Ellen Markus.

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