Child Speech Therapy: Childhood Voice Disorders

 Adam Levine

Adam Levine

Does your child’s voice sound raspy, hoarse, strained, and/or frequent pitch breaks when he or she talks or sings? These are signs and symptoms of a common voice disorder, vocal cord nodules. Nodules are noncancerous growths that form on the vocal cords or the source for voicing. Nodules affect both children and adult, and are the most common voice disorder among children. 

What causes vocal cord nodules?

Nodules are developed due to vocal abuse over a period of time. Vocal abuse refers to behaviors that harm the vocal cords such as yelling, frequent coughing, crying, dehydration, or excessive singing. Children often develop nodules due to screaming during playtime, sports, or recess.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Vocal cord nodules demonstrate the following characteristics:

·      Hoarse sounding voice

·      Pitch breaks during singing or talking

·      Effortful or strained voice

·      Excessively loud or high pitch voice

·      Child may strain their neck and shoulder muscles while producing speech

·      May experience a frequent sore throat

·      Coughing due to feeling like something is “stuck” in their throat

What is the treatment of vocal cord nodules?

Treatment involves vocal hygiene to heal the voice, and voice therapy to decrease vocal abuse and sustain healthy voicing.

·      Vocal hygiene is recommend to rest and heal the voice box. Vocal hygiene includes the following:

o   Voice rest. Taking a break from excessive talking, yelling, screaming, and singing may be necessary for up to 2 weeks post diagnosis.

o   Increase water intake and avoid caffeine. 

o   Maintain healthy diet. Hydration can be obtained through a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables.

o   Eliminate frequent throat clearing or coughing. Throat clearing can become habitual, so breaking the habit may be difficult. Develop a plan by taking a sip of water every time they feel like coughing.

o   Avoid whispering. Whispering puts extra strain on the vocal cords and may dry them out. Model appropriate volume level and encourage children to use their “indoor voice”.

o   Minimize screaming. Develop new ways to express feelings of excitement or anger during sporting events, playtime, etc. Encourage your children to clap their hands when they score a touchdown instead of screaming with excitement.

o   Role model. Children learn through imitation so be a role model for your children by implementing these strategies into your own life.

·      Voice therapy may be appropriate for children with chronic voice abuse. Voice therapy is a specific aspect of speech-language therapy conducted by a speech-language pathologist. Voice therapy focuses on eliminating vocal abuse by using an easy, relaxed voice. Voice therapy works on maintaining good vocal hygiene and sustaining an easy, relaxed voice in all settings and situations.

            With vocal hygiene, vocal rest, and voice therapy, vocal nodules will eventually heal and voice problems will resolve. Surgery is not recommended for children until first implementing vocal hygiene and voice therapy. For professional voice users such as singers and actors, surgery may be warranted.

 

Lumiere Therapy Team🖐️

 

References:

Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of. “Vocal Cord Nodules.” The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 15 Mar. 2016, www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/vocal-cord-nodules.

Swallow, Deanna. “Kids & Vocal Nodules: What Parents Should Know.” North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Deanna Swallow Http://nspt4kids.Com/Wp-Content/Uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-Color-logo_noclaims.Png, 27 Apr. 2014, nspt4kids.com/parenting/kids-vocal-nodules-what-parents-should-know/