Along with how we look, our voices are one of the most characteristic features that set us apart from other people.
Yet how we sound alters over the course of our lifetimes, in response to physical changes in the body.
During puberty, surprising cracks and unexpected squeaks can signal the first major changes in your voice.
In boys, this happens between ages 12 and 16 and in girls, between ages 10 and 14.
This change is more noticeable in boys. who can develop a jumping pitch, which can suddenly drop about an octave lower.
Girls’ voices also change as they mature, but less dramatically, and their pitch only drops about three tones.
Dr Claudio Milstein, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s voice centre, said: ‘Before puberty, your larynx, or voice box, sits higher in the neck.
‘As you go through these changes, it gets bigger and moves down lower.
‘Your vocal folds (cords) also thicken and enlarge.’
Along with how we look, our voices are one of the most characteristic features that set us apart from other people. Yet how we sound alters over the course of our lifetimes, in response to physical changes in the body
Later on, as you age, you may notice other changes such as weakening of the voice.
The joints of the larynx may thin and its cartilage may calcify further.
The vocal cords may lose flexibility and elasticity, and dry out.
Sometimes, the muscles of the larynx can atrophy, become thinner and weaker.
Your ribs may become more calcified and your torso may shrink, making your lungs may smaller, stiffer and less pliable.
Dr Milstein added. ‘If it’s difficult for others to hear and understand you, you may not want to sing in church, volunteer, or go out with friends.
‘When you become more socially isolated, your quality of life drops. This can lead to depression and affect overall health.’