Laryngitis: Everything You Need To Know

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box, also known as larynx, from overuse, irritation, or infection. The larynx houses the vocal cords which help us to breath, swallow and talk. The vocal cords are two small folds of mucous membrane covering cartilage and muscle that vibrate to produce sounds.

Laryngitis can be either acute or chronic.

The vocal cords are inflamed in this condition

What is Acute Laryngitis?

Acute laryngitis is a temporary condition caused by overusing the vocal cords. It can also be caused by an infection. It is termed “acute” because it lasts for less than 3 weeks. The underlying cause is treated to make the illness go away.

Common causes of acute laryngitis

  • Straining the vocal cords by talking, yelling or singing for so long
  • Upper respiratory tract infection, usually viral or bacterial. Commonest is viral
  • Excessive alcohol intake

What is Chronic Laryngitis?

Chronic laryngitis is a type that persists for more than 3 weeks. This type of laryngitis results from long-term exposure to irritants. It is usually more severe and has longer-lasting effects than acute laryngitis.

Causes of chronic laryngitis

  • Frequent exposure to harmful chemicals or allergens
  • Acid reflux
  • Frequent sinus infection
  • Smoking or being around smokers
  • Overuse of one’s voice
  • Yeast infections caused by frequent use of an asthma inhaler
  • Cancer
  • Increasing age – This usually results in paralysis of the vocal cords or change in their shape as one gets older.

What are the signs and symptoms of laryngitis?

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Sore throat (commonest)
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Loss of voice
  • A dry cough
  • Fever
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck
  • Difficulty in swallowing
Sore throat is the commonest complaint

How is laryngitis diagnosed?

To do this, your doctor will ask questions about all the symptoms you have, their possible causes, and potential complications. This would be followed by a physical examination, including the examination of your ears, nose, throat, and neck. If the symptoms are severe, especially in children, your doctor might require you to do an X-ray of your neck or chest. Another test that might be requested is complete blood cell count.

How is laryngitis treated?

The best treatment is to rest your voice. Without the stress of everyday use, it will often recover on its own. If however your need to speak is urgent, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids. These are drugs that mimic body hormones by relieving inflammation.

Home remedies for laryngitis

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Swallowing may be painful at the onset of your symptoms, but staying well-hydrated really helps. It is important to avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Use humidifiers and menthol inhalers. Moisture is highly helpful and menthol is soothing.
  • Gargle with warm salt water. The salinity of the water solutions soothes the area and reduces swelling.
  • Avoid dry, smoky, or dusty rooms.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine

A word from HealthFacts to you

One or more of the home remedies described above is usually enough to relieve the symptoms of laryngitis within days. However, should your symptoms persist for more than 3 weeks, ensure you see your doctor for expert care.

Till next time, stay informed and stay healthy.

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