Hoarseness in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Many things can cause your child's voice to become rough, raspy, or hard to hear. Having a cold or a sinus infection, yelling or talking too loudly, being exposed to smoke, or breathing dry air can cause a hoarse voice. Your child also can have voice problems from pollution and allergies. Sometimes acid from the stomach can back up into the throat—called acid reflux—and change your child's voice. In some cases, a problem with the voice box, or larynx, causes hoarseness.

Rest and home care may be all your child needs to care for a hoarse voice.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow the doctor's advice about how much to talk. Have your child use hand motions or write notes when possible to rest his or her voice.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Talk to your doctor about treatment for your child's allergies, if you do not already treat them.
  • Follow your child's treatment plan for acid reflux (if your child has the condition):
    • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
    • Limit or stop giving your child foods that make acid reflux worse. These may include tomatoes, spicy foods, and chocolate.
    • Limit or stop drinks that have caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and colas.
    • Raise the head of your child's bed 8 to 10 centimetres. Place a brick or a foam wedge under the mattress at the head of the bed. This will help keep stomach acid out of your child's throat at night.
  • Teach your child to talk, not whisper, when he or she must talk. Whispering can be hard on the voice.
  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to your child's bedroom. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine.
  • Have your child drink plenty of water to keep the throat moist.
  • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your house. Smoke can make your child's voice raspy.
  • To keep your child's voice from getting hoarse in the future, ask your child to try not to talk loudly or shout, such as at sports events.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child coughs up blood.
  • Your child has trouble swallowing.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child's voice is still hoarse after several days of home care.
  • Your child has hoarseness for more than 3 weeks after getting over a cold or the flu.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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