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We know babies cry, but some babies tend to cry a lot and quite loudly, for longer durations. In either of these cases, babies could develop a hoarse voice. But that’s not the only reason why babies’ voices could get hoarse. Teething and illness can also affect their voices. In this article, we shall discuss some more causes of hoarse voice in babies, its causes and treatment. Read on to know more.
Causes of a Hoarse Voice in Infants
The reasons for hoarseness in infants range from the simplest explanations to signs of a serious medical condition. Here are some of them.
1. Swelling of Vocal Cords and Formation of Nodules
A baby’s hoarse voice can be due to crying, though it is not very common in infants. As with the adults when the vocal cords are put under a lot of strain the baby’s cords can swell up, or develop nodules leading to his voice sounding hoarse.
2. Presence of Phlegm/Infections
The vocal tract is also connected to the nose, which is why any obstruction in the nose affects the voice. If your little one has a cough or a cold, the presence of phlegm in the throat can affect the voice. A viral infection, such as laryngitis can also cause inflammation of the voice box and lead to temporary hoarseness of the voice.
3. Result of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is pretty common in babies since their digestive systems are yet to reach full maturity. However, when the reflux starts getting too frequent, the acid that keeps rising to the throat can interact with the vocal cords and cause them to develop a scratchy texture.
4. Constant Papillomatosis of the Respiratory System
Although this illness is rare in babies, it does result in a hoarse voice. Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis or RRP is caused due to the HPV virus, or the human papillomavirus. It leads to a wart-like formation on the vocal cords, causing them to sound hoarse.
5. Possibility of a Tumour
This one is quite serious and can lead to fatal consequences if not diagnosed quickly. In such cases, babies usually cry a lot and then start having problems with breathing. The presence of a tumour does not necessarily indicate cancer, but it does hinder the normal functioning of the cords.
Dehydration could be another reason why a baby could have a hoarse voice. A large gap between feeds can lead to a dry throat, and the vocal cords could strain with the babying crying loudly for long periods.
Most of the causes mentioned above lead to temporary hoarseness of voice in babies. Therefore, parents might need to wait it out while they continue feeding the baby enough fluids to provide relief from dryness in the throat. However, some cases might need medical attention. Read on to know when you should take your little one to the doctor for treatment.
When should Your Baby Undergo Treatment for Hoarseness?
When hoarseness is generally a result of natural reasons, it tends to fade away in a few hours to a couple of days. But, it should not be ignored if it goes on for too long. You must therefore get in touch with a doctor to get the cause diagnosed, and understand treatment options if the hoarseness doesn’t subside in 2 to 3 days. Visiting a doctor is also advisable if you notice any of the signs given below:
- The voice keeps changing frequently over the next couple of days.
- The hoarseness tends to stay as it is, for nearly a month.
- The child starts having difficulty breathing properly.
- There seems to be a lump-like formation in the throat region.
- The child coughs a lot and throws up blood, intermittently.
In the next section, we shall talk a little more on the treatment options available for hoarseness in babies.
Hoarse Voice Treatment Options for Infants
Your little one’s hoarse voice can be quite disconcerting for you and be irritating for the child as well. Based on what the diagnosis for hoarseness might be, there are a bunch of treatment options that can be undertaken to alleviate hoarseness or heal the condition.
1. Hoarseness Due to Crying
For a baby who has a hoarse throat due to crying excessively, it is important to not cause further stress on the cords. Hold your baby and hum a song to soothe him as soon as you can. Try to lull your baby to sleep, so that he can take some rest, or give a bottle of milk to calm him down.
2. Hoarseness Due to Nodules
Surgery is usually avoided for babies, and focus is put on soothing the vocal cords. By opting for humidification procedures, reducing allergy triggers, as well as clearing sinuses, the nodules present on the vocal cords can be reduced. However, the final call depends on a case-to-case basis and the treating doctor.
3. Hoarseness Due to Phlegm
Phlegm begins by obstructing the nasal passage in the first place. So, it is necessary to clear out the cold present in the nose using nasal sprays/saline solutions and a nasal aspirator. Phlegm is often the result of an illness or a viral infection, which reduces once it is treated.
4. Hoarseness Due to Acid Reflux
The hoarseness caused in such a case cannot be taken care of right away. The key aspect here is to reduce acid reflux by instilling a fixed diet plan and making sure your child’s digestive processes are streamlined.
5. Hoarseness Due to RRP
Since this is the result of an infection caused by a virus, your doctor might suggest a medication that can combat the virus. In severe cases, surgery might also be required.
6. Hoarseness Due to a Tumour
On detection of a tumour, your doctor will undertake tests to check whether it is a cancerous tumour or not. Depending on that, treatment options might include countering cancer or undertaking surgery to remove the tumour.
Tips on Caring for Hoarse Voice in Babies
Though it is advised to consult a doctor for hoarseness, there are certain steps and precautions you can take to promote healing and reduce discomfort in your baby.
1. Restrict and Ease Strain on Vocal Cords
To avoid your baby straining or overusing his vocal cords, try various methods of relaxing him/her, such as swaddling, singing, humming a melody, etc. As your baby grows, initiate silent time wherein he can read, write, or play silently for a set time, and encourage him to speak in a low voice.
2. Ensure Your Baby Is Hydrated
Making sure your baby is hydrated should be of utmost importance because it reduces hoarseness. Mothers can schedule short and frequent breastfeeding sessions for infants, while for older babies, they can ensure their kids sip on enough water throughout the day to remain hydrated.
3. Restrict Exposure to Polluted Environments and Vaccinate Regularly
Exposure to smoke from cigarettes and pollution can cause breathing issues, as well as conditions that cause hoarseness in babies. Additionally, regular vaccinations strengthen their immune system and build resistance to viruses and germs that cause sickness that could lead to hoarseness.
When it comes to understanding the cause of hoarseness in babies, there may not be other symptoms present to provide a clear picture of the reason behind the condition. Usually, taking stock of the infant’s behaviour prior to the hoarse voice might contain the clues you need. Treatment options then become pretty straightforward.