What Causes Hoarseness in Children?

If your child's voice suddenly sounds husky, scratchy or weak, it's possible that he is suffering from hoarseness. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, hoarseness is most often caused by inflammation to the larynx. However, other conditions may have caused your child's hoarseness. A visit to your pediatrician is the best way to determine the exact cause.

A group of children playing and shouting in a circle. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Shouting From the Rooftop

If your child is loudly singing, yelling, talking non-stop, or straining her voice, it can cause her to become hoarse, explains the KidsHealth website. If she does these activities repeatedly, without allowing her vocal cords to rest and repair themselves, she can end up with callouses or nodules that causes chronic hoarseness.

Prolonged Crying

Excessive crying can cause temporary hoarseness in children because of vocal cord irritation, reports MedlinePlus. If this is the case, your child will need to rest his voice in order to restore it. A humidifier or drinking fluids can help your child's throat feel better if it's sore after a bout of crying.


Coughing may also irritate the vocal chords and lead to hoarseness in children. If this is the case, treating the source of the cough is your best option for relieving hoarseness. If it continues for more than a week after other symptoms have passed, consult your pediatrician to check on other possible causes.


Allergies can produce coughing that can irritate vocal cords, but it can also cause inflammation or a post-nasal drip that is the source of irritation. If your child is old enough to understand, advise him that he'll need to restrict use of his voice to allow his vocal cords to heal. Even whispering can cause additional strain and prolong hoarseness, according to MedlinePlus.

Gastroesophageal Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux, commonly referred to as GERD, can be a source of hoarseness in children. Again, this condition must be treated itself before the hoarseness can be treated. Once the GERD is under control, your pediatrician may advise your child to avoid certain substances, such as caffeinated or carbonated beverages, as they can cause additional irritation to the vocal cords and prolong hoarseness.


If hoarseness in your child persists for longer than a week or doesn't appear to be tied to another condition, it is best to consult your family doctor for a proper diagnosis. If your doctor is unable to determine the source of your child's hoarseness, she may refer you to an ENT, or Ear-Nose-Throat, specialist.

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