There are many ear nose and throat problems in children and adolescents that can result in serious things like breathing difficulties that require airway reconstruction. In fact, among children with hearing loss genes are responsible in about 50% to 60% of cases. Many of these issues are things children are born with such as cleft palates and vocal cord paralysis. One other potential conditions is what’s known as hypernasal speech.
Hypernasal speech, known medically as Rhinolalia aperta, is a disorder that causes a human’s voice to experience abnormal resonance as a result of increased airflow through the nose during speech. Specifically, this condition relates to the velopharyngeal valve. The general term for disorders of this variety is velopharyngeal dysfunction.
Although it is not particularly harmful or serious, it can be crippling condition emotionally for young children. Here are a few things to know about hypernasal speech to help better inform you going forward.
- 3 Types of Velopharyngeal Dysfunction: Technically there are three different potential disorders when it comes to VPD: velopharyngeal insufficiency, velopharyngeal inadequacy, and velopharyngeal mislearning. Velopharyngeal insufficiency is typically caused by an anatomical abnormality of the throat. Incompetence results from a lack of speed and precision that has to do with a valve defect and finally mislearning, which is when a child has no physical/anatomical abnormalities for the conditions and rather hypernasal speech is something they may have picked up on or learned growing up.
- Diagnosis: The most common wya to diagnose this kind of disorder is through general observation by a speech therapist. There are plenty of more in-depth ways to verify the condition is present, but it can typically be heard and identified to the common person’s ear fairly easily.
- Treatment Options: There are plenty of ways to try and treat this condition which includes professional speech therapy, exercise, and even surgery in some cases. One of the types of surgery, posterior pharyngeal wall flap, is known for leaving patients with snoring and sleep apnea problems. Snoring is already prevalent in children as about 12% of the overall population does it.
Hypernasal speech isn’t a dire condition but it is one to be aware of and sensitive to as your child or someone they know that you run into might have it one day.