AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Did you know that April 16th was World Voice Day?

Every year on 4/16, head and neck surgeons and other voice health professionals join together to recognize World Voice Day. It’s about encouraging everyone to assess their vocal health and take action to improve or maintain good voice habits.

It also raises awareness for people who use their voices professionally, like singers, teachers, even news anchors.

So you may be wondering, what is a voice disorder? Hoarseness, vocal fatigue, your voice feeling tired after speaking for long periods of time, raspiness, frequent loss of voice, inappropriate pitch, or loudness.

The primary causes are vocal abuse, frequent yelling and shouting, speaking too high or too loud, too soft or too low, using poor breath support when speaking, singing incorrectly. But other factors can affect your voice, too. Including smoking. That means secondhand smoke as well. Taking certain medications, reflux, and dehydration.

This year, our friends at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia are highlighting voice disorders in children. These are some of the warning signs your child may have a voice disorder. They sound hoarse, raspy, or strained on a frequent basis. They frequently lose their voice after sporting events or social events. People may say their voice makes them sound older, or they often have vocal fatigue noted after periods of talking.

The theme of this year’s World Voice Day is lift your voice. The incidence of voice disorders in school-age children ranges from 6% to 23%. To tell us more, please welcome Dr. Heather Koehn, the Director of AU’s Pediatric Speech & Swallowing Center, and Mandy Hutter, who is a pediatric speech and language pathologist.

Hutter: “Speech is broken down into several different categories. So when you look at speech, that’s really articulation. So that is how well you’re able to articulate. If you have a problem, a lot of kids can’t say their R’s, or something like that. That would be a speech problem. A language problem is more so what they’re able to comprehend and what they’re able to express.”

Koehn: “I think the number one thing that we will talk to patients about who are having trouble with their voice, with hoarseness, in particular, is having good vocal hygiene, which means drinking a lot of water. Staying away from dehydrating things, like sodas, and all the wonderful things that we like are not as helpful for our voice.”

If you suspect your child has a voice disorder, contact your pediatrician and ask for a referral for a pediatric ENT or speech therapist. Contact the Pediatric Speech & Swallowing Center at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. The number there is 706-721-6387. Or you can email cleft@augusta.edu