Whether your child was born with a voice disorder or developed one in childhood, our pediatric voice care specialists can help. We have the expertise to diagnose vocal disorders and develop a customized treatment plan. We restore children’s voices to the best they can be and help them learn healthy ways to use their voice for life.
About Children's Voice Disorders
Children can develop voice problems from overusing their voices or from medical conditions like allergies, asthma, and acid reflux. Less often, children may be born with a voice disorder. Common voice problems in children include:
- Benign swelling or lesions (edema, nodules, cysts, or polyps) on the vocal cords, also known as vocal folds
- Papilloma -- a small, usually benign wart-like growth -- on the vocal cords
- Vocal cord dysfunction and chronic cough
- Vocal strain
- Vocal cord paralysis, sometimes following heart or lung surgery
These conditions can affect your child's ability to speak and can cause breathing and swallowing problems. Consider a professional evaluation if your child has frequent laryngitis, seems to strain when talking, or complains often of a scratchy throat.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Tests for Pediatric Voice Disorders
A pediatric otolaryngologist and speech pathologist will conduct a comprehensive voice evaluation of your child. Together, our experts will assess the causes of your child's voice problem to ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis. We evaluate your child's voice use patterns -- how much they speak, sing, or use a loud voice -- as well as what their voice sounds like. Our pediatric otolaryngologist will evaluate whether your child's voice changes have a medical cause such as illness, allergies, acid reflux, or recent surgery.
We perform a head-and-neck examination and a visual examination of your child's voice box. If chronic cough is a concern, your child's breathing or cough symptoms will also be evaluated. Additional tests may be necessary to complete the evaluation.
This detailed visual exam helps us evaluate how your child's vocal cords vibrate while they make sounds. A tiny camera attached to a small tube called an endoscope is inserted through the nose and allows us to see your child's vocal cords and larynx (voice box). A flashing strobe light simulates slow motion video images of your child's vocal cords. This test allows your child's team to look for any growths, paralysis, irregular movements, or throat strain involving the vocal cords. Videolaryngostroboscopy is essential to reach an accurate diagnosis and determine the best treatment for your child.
The exam takes just a few minutes, and every effort is made to provide a positive experience for your child and family. Your child's nose will be sprayed with a numbing medicine to minimize discomfort. At the Duke Children’s Health Center, a Child Life Specialist is available to help explain what will happen during the exam and provide additional comfort.
Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in nine pediatric specialties.
Why Choose Duke
We use the latest techniques to evaluate your child and recommend the most appropriate treatment, based on their age and condition.
Comprehensive Team of Voice Specialists
We are one of the few voice centers in the Southeast with a comprehensive team of voice specialists who have expertise in children's voice problems.
Pediatric ENT Experts
Your child's care team will include a pediatric otolaryngologist -- an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor who specializes in voice disorders -- and speech pathologists, all trained to evaluate and treat children with voice problems, swallowing disorders, and airway problems.
Skilled Pediatric Surgeons
If your child needs surgery, our surgeons are skilled in operating on children's voice boxes. Our pediatric otolaryngologists have the necessary expertise and experience, ensuring your child receives the very best care.
Singing Voice Rehabilitation
Our clinical singing voice specialists -- speech pathologists with additional training in vocal performance and singing voice rehabilitation -- are experienced performers, singers, and singing teachers who understand the special needs of the young singer. They bring empathy and clinical expertise to evaluating and providing specialized therapy to singers and performers of all ages.
Coordination with Other Specialists
If a child has other medical conditions that may contribute to voice strain -- such as allergies, asthma, or acid reflux -- we work with other providers throughout Duke Health to ensure you receive the best care from an integrated team.
Access to the Latest Research
Our ongoing research ensures your child receives the best, most up-to-date care for their voice disorder.