Laryngitis

The larynx is called “voice box”. It is the vital part of the respiratory tract which allows the air to pass through it and keeps the food and drink from blocking the air ways. The main function of the larynx is to produce the sounds while you talk and sing.

When the larynx is inflamed, the condition is referred as laryngitis. Inflammation can be a result of overuse, irritation or infection. The two main types of laryngitis are chronic type and acute type.

Causes

Acute laryngitis is temporary and is caused by overuse or due to any underlying infection. Chronic laryngitis can be caused due to the long-term exposure to harmful chemicals.

The major causes of acute laryngitis are viral infections, the strain on vocal cords, or may be due to any bacterial infections.

The major causes of chronic laryngitis are, acid refluxes, overusing of voice, infections such as sinusitis, smoking and frequent exposure to harmful allergens.

Symptoms

The common symptoms of laryngitis may include dry cough, loss of voice, throat irritation, weakened voice, hoarseness in voice.

Croup is a symptom that occurs in infants and small children who are attacked with a bacterial form of laryngitis. Croup is an inflammation of the throat which may develop into epiglottitis. Epiglottitis can become fatal if left untreated.

You must call your doctor immediately if there is:

  • Hypersalivation
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fever over 103 degrees Fahrenheit

In most severe cases of laryngitis, which is caused by infection, the infection may spread to other parts of the respiratory tract and cause severe respiratory tract infections.

Hoarseness of voice is the most common sign of laryngitis. This can vary on the degree of infection. Your doctor may examine your vocal cords. Later he/she would order for diagnostic tests such as:

Laryngoscopy: this technique helps your doctor to visually examine your vocal cords, for this a light and a tiny mirror are required. Your doctor may rather use a fiber-optic Laryngoscopy by inserting a flexible tube which has a tiny camera; this helps your doctor to visualize the motion of your vocal cords.

Biopsy: if your doctor finds anything suspicious your doctor may take a sample of the tissue for biopsy.

Acute laryngitis is self-limiting and gets better within a week or two. Following certain self-care measures would also fasten the recovery and improves the symptoms.

The goal of treatment for chronic laryngitis is to treat the underlying causes, such as heartburn, smoking or alcohol addiction.

Your doctor prescribes certain medications which include:

Antibiotics cannot work well because the major cause would be viral. If there is any evidence of bacterial infection, then your doctor would recommend the best suitable antibiotics for you.

Corticosteroids help reduce the inflammation in your vocal cords. But these drugs are reserved only for urgent needs in treating laryngitis mainly in cases that have symptoms such as, croup.

Some home treatments and self-care remedies would help in alleviating the symptoms of laryngitis:

  • Breathing in moist air and inhaling steam would help clear the airway.
  • Resting the voice as much as possible, by talking less and avoiding overuse of voice
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Sucking on lozenges or gargling with warm salt water, or chewing on a gum
  • Avoiding overuse of decongestants which dries your throat

To prevent the irritation in your throat, you can follow the measures given below:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid eating spicy foods
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables