Monday, 9 August 2010

Children's voices need to be listened to in more ways than one!

Few people are aware about the speech and language therapist's role in voice, both for children and adults. We have a role in prevention and treatment of voice problems. There is an excellent article on children's voice care at the Speech Therapy Information Services website  'We are aiming to do THREE THINGS:
  1. keep the voice box healthy
  2. reduce the strain on the voice
  3. help the child to monitor his/her own voice
The vocal cords are covered with mucus – a gluey, slippery substance that protects and lubricates them. If it becomes too dry or too thick this reduces its ability to protect the cords. The following suggestions can help to stop this happening.

Drink water regularlyDepending on the age and size of the child, they should drink 6-8 glasses (1.5 - 2 litres) each day. This should be spread out across the whole day. Encourage the child to take frequent drinks rather than, for example, having three glasses at lunch time and then not drinking again until they get home from school. There is no need to buy expensive bottled water: for most purposes tap water is fine. Teenage boys aged 14 years and over, will generally require about 11 glasses (2.6 litres) of water each day. Just be careful that children do not drink so much that they then feel too bloated to eat proper meals.
Avoid caffeineTea, coffee and many fizzy drinks contain caffeine. This can be drying and it is also a diuretic – this means that it increases the discharge of urine and, therefore, the loss of more water.
Reduce fizzy drinksAs well as the possibility of containing caffeine, these often have high levels of sugar or sweeteners. These may also lead to dryness in the mouth and throat and can actually leave the child feeling thirstier.
Take care with fruit drinksFruit juices, smoothies and the like can be beneficial. However, some have high levels of acidity, which is not good for the voice (or teeth). Read labels carefully before buying.
Eat fruit and vegFor a healthy body, now and in the future, the recommended daily intake is five portions of fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are high in essential vitamins and minerals. They are low fat, low calorie foods that also help maintain a healthy weight. In summary, a healthy diet will keep the whole body, including the voice, healthy. Children and young people often enjoy novelty foods, of course. So, rather than cutting these out all together, why not reduce them or, better still, keep them as an occasional treat?
Drink with spicy foodsHot and spicy foods may cause dryness in the throat. Always drink plenty of water with foods like this.
Keep air moistKeep the air in rooms humid. In centrally heated rooms, keep a bowl of water on a table or on the windowsill above the radiator, or throw a wet towel on the radiator, so that the air is not too dry. Open a window to allow air to circulate. [CAUTION: DO NOT BLOCK AIR VENTS ON HEATING EQUIPMENT.] You can also use buy humidifiers designed for this job'. To read the rest of the article:

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