What is hoarseness?

Jump to

Hoarseness: Overview

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

Rest and home care may be all you need if you have a hoarse voice.

How can you care for hoarseness in children?

  • Follow the doctor's advice about how much to talk. Have your child use hand motions or write notes when possible to rest their voice.
  • 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 if you think your child is having a problem with a 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.
    • If your child is older than 12 months, raise the head of their bed a little bit. Don't raise the mattress. Place blocks under the frame. This will help keep stomach acid out of your child's throat at night.
  • Teach your child to talk, not whisper, when they must talk. Whispering can be hard on the voice.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Hoarseness in children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child has trouble swallowing.

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

  • Your child is not getting better as expected.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.