Referral guideline – Hoarseness


Hoarseness is quite common in children. It is usually related to the way children use their voices rather than a serious illness.

Common causes include:

  • infections
  • vocal nodules
  • other laryngeal pathology such as cysts/polyps/papillomas etc.

GP management

  • Consider community/private speech pathology review if this is available
  • Note: QCH speech pathology department does not see children with hoarseness
  • Treat any associated bacterial infection

When to refer

  • Hoarseness persists for several months or there is a marked deterioration in voice quality
  • Note: Acute hoarseness with respiratory distress or stridor should be seen in the emergency department


  • Presenting complaint and reason for referral
  • Detailed history of symptoms and treatment to date
  • Patient details (name, age and gender)
  • Medicare number
  • Parent/Carer’s name and contact details
  • Referring clinician details (name, contact details, provider number, date and length of referral)

Essential referral info

  • Other past medical and surgical history
  • Antenatal and perinatal history that may be relevant – prematurity, birth weight, birth trauma, or alcohol/drug use in pregnancy
  • Family history
  • Current medications and allergies
  • Immunisations
  • Examination findings – including any dysmorphic features, full ocular examination
  • Is the patient of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent?

From 1 May 2019 referral criteria will apply at CHQ. This condition has minimum demographic and essential clinical referral information that is required to be included prior to submission of the referral. Visit the CPC website for the required condition. If you are unable to provide the required “essential information” please state the reason when you submit the referral.

Parent service

Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery

Contact details

Hospital Switchboard
(Ask for Otolaryngology (ENT) On-call Registrar)
t: 07 3068 1111