Just what to do for laryngitis is a good question. I guess it depends on who has it. If it’s your boss or your spouse, don’t do anything. Just relax and enjoy the freedom. Kidding, here are some facts about laryngitis and some suggestions for the treatment and recovery.
What Is Laryngitis?
- It is an inflammation of the larynx, also known as the voice box. It is uncomfortable and is usually accompanied by a sore throat.
- In most cases the condition is temporary (acute) and can last for up to two weeks.
- The most common causes of acute laryngitis are viral infections such as those associated with colds or the flu. The larynx can also be strained as a result of overuse such as in cheering loudly at an event or loud continuous singing.
- It is contagious only if it is caused by an infection and is spread in the same way as a cold or flu, which is by contact from person to person or by touching infected surfaces.
- Chronic laryngitis will occur mostly in middle age and is more prevalent in men.
- In children it can develop further and result in a respiratory illness called croup.
Signs And Symptoms Of Laryngitis
The most common symptoms will be a sore throat which will include difficulty swallowing, a dry cough and hoarseness or loss of voice altogether. Not all symptoms will appear in every person suffering from laryngitis but they can include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Lymph nodes in the neck that are inflamed.
- Runny nose and fever.
- Tickling and rawness in the throat.
Chronic Cases Of Laryngitis
As mentioned earlier, cases of acute laryngitis usually only last for about two weeks. If your condition persists for much longer, it is advisable to see a doctor for further diagnosis and treatment. Chronic cases may be the result of some other illness such as acid reflux, GERD or sinusitis and the treatment of those illnesses could result in an improvement to the laryngitis. Hoarseness and inflamed larynx may also result from more serious conditions like cancer and exposure to chemicals or could be from lifestyle and aging. If it is an ongoing problem see your healthcare professional as soon as possible.
In the case of chronic laryngitis the persistent inflammation and irritation on the vocal cords may cause the formation of polyps or nodules.
Some cases of laryngitis are caused by bacterial infections and can be treated with prescription medication from your doctor.
Treatment And Prevention Of Laryngitis
- Quit talking, don’t even whisper, it stretches the vocal cords and delays healing. The vocal cords need to rest.
- Use cough suppressants to reduce irritation of the throat.
- Smoking and secondhand smoke should be avoided as it contributes to the irritation of the throat.
- Keep the throat lubricated by drinking plenty of water. This will prevent dryness of the vocal cords and can reduce the risk of laryngitis.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol products to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid contact with people who exhibit the signs and symptoms of the cold or flu and wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid clearing your throat to avoid irritating the inflammation.
- Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist. It can also be beneficial to breath steam from a shower or bowl of hot water.
- Avoid the use of decongestants which can dry out the throat.
In children the laryngitis could be a sign of croup and requires diagnosis from a doctor. If a child has trouble breathing, swallowing or makes a noisy high pitched sound when breathing or if they develop a fever they may have croup. In these cases, immediate medical attention should be sought.