What is hoarseness?
Hoarseness is a voice disorder found in children as well as adults. The signs of this can be a sore throat or inability to shout out loud, and the voice will sound hoarse, rough or crackly. In the worst case scenario no sound will be made at all, and there may be problems with breathing.
The cause of a voice disorder in children could lie in the voice box itself, for instance when one has a cold or the flu. Using the voice in the wrong way can also cause hoarseness, such as imitating television characters or through habit.
When pressure in breathing is not spread in the right way through speaking, the voice box will overload. The vocal chords will not close properly, causing a hoarseness to be heard. When the voice is overused, it could cause swelling in the vocal chords. The child will speak with a hoarse, rough, crackly or weak voice, shouting out loud is difficult and higher tones cannot be sung any more. The vocal chords will become even more irritated through clearing the throat and coughing.
The (benign) swelling and irritations can effect both vocal chords; the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist will give a diagnosis.
What does the speech therapist do?
Despite the extent of the swelling and irritation of the vocal chords and the time at which it occurred, hoarseness can be helped with speech therapy treatment. In the investigation the speech therapist will observe body posture, use of breathing and voice. The speech therapist will show the child, through observation and listening exercises, to recognize their own voice. The corrugation pattern of breathing while speaking will be worked on; the pitch and tone of the voice will be trained.
By discarding the wrong way to voice things, and by training the vocal chords correctly the defects in the vocal chords will disappear, or be avoided. The voice will sound clearer carry further.
The result of speech therapy treatment depends, among other things, on the possibilities and structure of the articulators themselves, but also on the motivation of the child (and parents). In most cases a short span of speech therapy treatment will greatly affect the child’s breathing and use of voice.
The investigation and treatment of hoarseness will, as a rule, be reimbursed by medical insurance, and almost every individual health insurance company, provided it has been recommended by a doctor or medical specialist.