HOARSENESS AMONG SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN
Background. The prevalence of dysphonia in schoolchildren has been reported to be from 7.1% to 23.3% and in adolescents from 0 to 80%. In Slovenia, the study on prevalence of dysphonia in schoolchildren has not been performed yet.
Methods. The voice samples of 100 4th-graders and 102 8thgraders of elementary school were recorded. A lay judge and a professional assessed independently degree of hoarseness in the voice samples. One to three months after the recording, the dysphonic children were invited to an otorhinolaryngologic examination in order to find out the cause of dysphonia. All children and their parents answered the questionnaires on illnesses and vocal habits that might cause hoarseness. The prevalence of these unfavourable factors was compared between the group of children with long lasting hoarseness and the children without it.
Results. At voice samples’ recording there were 34.2% dysphonic children. One to three months later, there were still 14.9% children with hoarse voice. The most frequent causes for acute dysphonia were acute respiratory infection and exacerbation of chronic laryngitis. The most frequent causes for persistent dysphonia were allergic catarrhal laryngitis, muscle tension dysphonia with or without vocal nodules and mutational voice disorder. The fast speaking rate appeared to be characteristic for children with long lasting dysphonia.
Conclusions. Dysphonia in school-age children is the result of diseases of upper respiratory tract and/or functional voice disorders. Both causes of dysphonia could be successfully treated if they are detected early and the children are advised to see an otorhinolaryngologist. Adolescence is an ideal period for treatment of functional voice disorders. It is also the period when the children must decide for their future profession.
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