If you have been listening to President Biden lately, you will have noticed that his voice is sounding rougher – a bit more gravely. He is sounding hoarse. It was of sufficient concern that he required medical attention.
In a brief time between writing commentaries and making stuffed grape leaves (I enjoy cooking as a minor hobby), I decided to go down the Internet rabbit hole to see what can change a person’s voice. I had a pretty good idea of some of the reasons but wanted to see if I missed anything. The first thing I learned is that there is one of those Latin medical words for it – dysphonia.
The most common and most obvious form of dysphonia is the result of a virus infection – commonly called a “cold.” In fact, Biden publicly blamed his grandson for giving him a cold (nice) – but the hoarseness has continued. There are many other reasons why a person’s voice changes in such a manner – especially an older person.
We all know that there is a natural change in voice as kids pass into puberty. However, you can disregard that in Biden’s case. In fact, you can disregard that for the rest of this commentary.
Aging is also a common reason for a change in the voice. According to the medical information, that is due to the weakening of the voice box and the reduction in air capacity. Now that may be Biden’s problem. (I was going to make a joke about his being full of hot air, but I decided to skip it.)
If you are old enough to remember when President Clinton was in the White House, you will have noticed that his voice has since become permanently “hoarse.” As far as I can tell, there was never an official explanation.
There is another reason for voice changes – stress on the vocal cords. This can cause a change in the pitch, timbre and intensity (the three qualities of sound). That is why we “lose our voice” if we scream too much when our team scores.
This can occur in people who use their voices more than most. That is why singers tend to lose their “singing voice” as they age. But it can also be people who talk a lot – like teachers, radio announcers and politicians. That probably does not apply to Biden since he is famous – or infamous – for avoiding saying much in public. And even then, he rarely raises his voice above a whisper unless indicated on his teleprompter. He has President Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge beat for impromptu oration.
Alcohol may temporarily affect the voice – especially the next morning. At least that is what more knowledgeable folks tell me. I do not think Biden is much of a drinker, so that probably is not applicable in his case. I have noticed a reverse phenomenon in which folks gain a hitherto undiscovered singing voice after consuming alcohol in excess of their capacity.
If you ever looked up the causes of any symptom, you would know that the medical list goes on and on … and on. In the case of “hoarseness,” we have Laryngitis — is when your vocal cords swell probably from an allergy. Then there are polyps, tumors, cysts or nodules, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), hemorrhaging, esophageal cancer, thyroid cancer or removal, vocal cord paralysis, strokes, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis … Enough already!
I am regretting jumping down this rabbit hole. So, I shall conclude with a brief summation. The good news in terms of Biden is that he has the top medical experts in the world to properly determine what is causing his voice change. And they have recently announced their findings. Our President has “a frog in his throat.”
So, there ‘tis – ribbid!