Have you ever had laryngitis? Did you feel like you had to strain to talk? Was it hard for you to communicate at work? Were people constantly asking you if you were sick?
Hoarseness is very common among children as well. Voice disorders in children can adversely affect how they are perceived by adults and their peers. They may be labeled as rowdy or difficult. They can struggle to be understood in school and in other noisy environments. For some children this experience can be very distressing and cause them to become self-conscious or shy.
The most common cause of hoarseness in children is vocal fold nodules. These can be thought of as calluses on the vocal folds from using the voice a lot in a rough manner (yelling, screaming, etc.). There are many other hoarseness-causing lumps and bumps of the vocal folds which can be easily mistaken for vocal fold nodules. In addition, children who have needed a breathing tube in an intensive care unit or who have had neck or chest surgeries are at risk for vocal fold paralysis which can cause a weak and breathy voice. The best way to diagnose these voice problems is with a scope called laryngeal stroboscopy (a specifically designed tool which allows viewing of vocal fold vibration), and its use on young children is unique to the Voice Center at Texas Children’s.
At Texas Children’s Voice Clinic, children with hoarseness are evaluated by a team of speech language pathologists trained in voice disorders and a pediatric laryngologist (voice specialist). The evaluation includes a voice recording which is then analyzed, as well as a recorded laryngeal stroboscopy. We can then offer a treatment plan tailored to the individual child. The plan may involve voice therapy, surgery on the voice box or both. Families also have the opportunity to participate in research to help us understand how to better examine and treat voice problems.
To learn more about voice disorders, click here.