‘Why do old people clear their throat so often?’

Dec 26, 2019
One reader is wondering why our voice gets croakier as we age. Source: Getty

Q: Why do old people clear their throat so often?

As we age, our tissues generally lose their suppleness and elasticity, which often leads to older people developing croakier voices and needing to clear their throat. Swallowing also becomes more difficult as we age.

But, having said that, voice hoarseness, a dry cough and difficulty swallowing may indicate cerebrovascular disease (a group of conditions that affect the blood supply to the brain) or even a stroke. Occasionally, these symptoms may be the first manifestation of even more significant neurological conditions. I would suggest an assessment by a neurologist if these symptoms appear significant.

Q: I’m 74 years old in moderate health. I suffer from severe pain with arthritis. I’m on meds but they’re not much help. My left hand has all the bumps and lumps, nothing in the right hand. I just wondered why?

If there’s a significant difference between hands, I would suggest you’re either left handed or have injured the left hand at some stage. Genetic osteoarthritis tends to be bilateral and relatively equal. But severe pain in one hand should be investigated, as it may be some other rheumatic condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. Also, it’s important to consider the contribution from other conditions and medications. Statin drugs to lower cholesterol may also make an underlying arthritic condition so much worse.

If you have a question for Starts at 60’s health experts, email it to [email protected].

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

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