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What is hoarseness?

Hoarseness is when your child's voice is raspy. If it is severe, your child can do little more than whisper. A cough is often associated with the hoarseness.

What is the cause?

Hoarseness is usually caused by a cold or croup virus (laryngitis) or overuse of the vocal cords (for example, yelling and screaming). Allergies to dust, chemicals, or pollutants can also cause a raspy voice from sticky secretions.

How long will it last?

Hoarseness usually lasts 1 to 2 weeks. Repeated voice strain (for example, from yelling) can cause thickening of the cords and a slow recovery.

How can I take care of my child?

Your child should gargle with warm water and suck on hard candy or cough drops several times a day. Younger children can sip warm liquids like apple juice. If the air in your home is dry, use a humidifier. Encourage your child to rest his voice and avoid the voice strain that comes from yelling and screaming. Encourage him to talk as little as possible for a few days. If the hoarseness gets really bad, have him whisper or write notes.

When should I call my child's health care provider?


  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child starts acting very sick.

Call during office hours if:

  • The hoarseness continues for more than 2 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-02-24
Last reviewed: 2006-02-23
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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