Laryngitis is a swelling or inflammation of your voice box (larynx) from irritation, overuse, or infection.
Inside the larynx are your vocal cords — two overlaps of mucous membrane coating muscle and cartilage. Usually, your vocal cords open and close smoothly, forming sounds through their movement and vibration.
But in laryngitis, your vocal cords become inflamed or irritated. This swelling distorts the sounds produced by air passing over them. As a result, your voice sounds hoarse. In some cases of laryngitis, your voice can become almost undetectable.
Laryngitis may be short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic). Most cases of laryngitis are triggered by a temporary viral infection or vocal strain and aren’t serious. Non -stop hoarseness can sometimes signal a more severe underlying medical condition.
In most scenarios, laryngitis symptoms last less than a couple of weeks and are caused by something minor, such as a virus. Less often, laryngitis symptoms are triggered by something more serious or long-lasting. Laryngitis signs and symptoms can include:
- Weak voice or voice loss
- Tickling sensation and rawness of your throat
- A sore throat
- Dry throat
- A dry cough
When to see a physician
You can take care of most acute cases of laryngitis with self-care steps, such as stop using your voice and drinking plenty of fluids. Demanding use of your voice while having an episode of acute laryngitis can damage your vocal cords.
You should schedule an appointment with your physican if your laryngitis symptoms last more than two weeks.
Seek medical attention if you as soon as you can if:
- Have trouble breathing
- Coughing up blood
- Have a fever that won’t go away
- Have increasing pain
- Have trouble swallowing
- Seek immediate medical attention if your child:
- Makes noisy, high-pitched breathing sounds when inhaling (stridor)
- Drools more than usual
- You have trouble swallowing
- Has difficulty breathing
- You a fever higher than 103 F (39.4 C)
These symptoms and signs may stipulate croup — swelling of the larynx and the airway just beneath it. Although croup can normally be treated at home, critical symptoms need medical attention. These traits also can indicate epiglottitis, a swelling from infection of the tissue that serves as a lid to cap the windpipe (trachea), which can be dangerous for children and adults.
Most circumstances of laryngitis are passing and heal after the underlying cause improves Causes of acute laryngitis encompasses:
Viral infections comparable to those that cause a cold
Vocal strain, generated by yelling or overusing your voice
Bacterial germs, such as diphtheria, however, this is rare, in large part due to increasing degrees of vaccination
Laryngitis that lasts for an extended period ( longer than three weeks) is known as chronic laryngitis. This type of laryngitis is precipitated by susceptibility to irritants over time. Chronic laryngitis can trigger vocal cord strain and injuries or growths on the vocal cords (polyps or nodules). This damage can be caused by:
- Inhaled irritants, such as synthetic fumes, allergens or smoke
- Acid reflux also referred gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Chronic sinusitis
- Excessive alcohol use
- Habitual overuse of your voice (such as with singers or cheerleaders)
- Less common triggers of chronic laryngitis include:
- Bacterial or fungal infections
- Infections with certain parasites
- Other causes of chronic hoarseness include:
- Vocal cord paralysis, which can be the outcome of injury, stroke, a lung tumor or other health ailments
- Bowing of the vocal cords in old age
Risk factors for Laryngitis include the following:
• Having a respiratory infection, such as a bronchitis cold,or sinusitis
• Exposure to irritating elements, such as cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol intake, stomach acid or workplace chemicals
• Overusing your voice, by speaking too much, speaking too loudly, shouting or singing
In some circumstances of laryngitis produced by infection, the infection may spread to other parts of the respiratory tract.
To prevent irritation and dryness do the following for your vocal cords:
• Do not smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoke dries your throat and irritates your vocal cords.
• Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake. These will cause you to lose total body water.
• Drink a significant amount of water. Fluids assist in keeping the mucus in your throat thin and easier to clear.
• Do not eat spicy foods. Spicy foods can produce stomach acid that moves into the throat or esophagus, forming heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
• Include vegetables, whole grains, and fruits in your diet. These foods contain vitamins A, E, and C, and help keep the mucus membranes that line the throat sound.
• Avoid clearing your throat. This causes more harm than benefit, because it causes an unusual vibration of your vocal cords and can increase swelling. Clearing your throat also makes your throat to secrete more mucus and create a more irritated sensation, causing you want to clear your throat again.
• Avoid upper respiratory infections. Wash your hands often, and avoid contact with people who have upper respiratory infections such as colds.
The most prevalent sign of laryngitis is a raspy throat. Changes in your voice can vary with the level of infection or irritation, varying from mild hoarseness to nearly the total loss of your voice. If you have chronic hoarseness, your physician may want to listen to your voice and to measure your vocal cords, and he or she may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist (otorhinolaryngologist).
These methods sometimes are used to help diagnose laryngitis:
• Laryngoscopy. Your physician can visually inspect your vocal cords in a procedure is referred to as laryngoscopy, by utilizing a light and a tiny mirror to watch into the back of your throat. Or your physician may use fiber-optic laryngoscopy. This includes entering a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) with a miniature camera and light through your nose or mouth and into the posterior of your throat. Then your doctor can watch the movement of your vocal cords as you speak.
• Biopsy. If your physician sees a suspicious area, he or she may do a biopsy — taking a sample of tissue for review under a microscope.
Acute laryngitis often gets better on its own within a week or so. Self-care techniques also can help alleviate symptoms.
Chronic laryngitis treatments are directed at managing the underlying conditions, such as smoking, heartburn, or excessive use of alcohol.
Medications used in some cases include:
• Antibiotics. In nearly all cases of laryngitis, an antibiotic won’t be of any benefit because the cause is usually a virus. But if you have a bacterial infection, your physician may recommend an antibiotic.
• Corticosteroids. Sometimes, corticosteroids can help reduce vocal cord inflammation. Nevertheless, this treatment is applied only when there’s a clear necessity to treat laryngitis — for instance, when you require using your voice to sing or give a lecture or oral presentation, or in some circumstances when a toddler has laryngitis associated with croup.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Some self-care techniques and home treatments may alleviate the symptoms of laryngitis and reduce strain on your voice:
• Breathe moist air. Use a humidifier to preserve the air throughout your home or office moistened. Inhale steam from a bowl of hot water or a hot shower, as humidity should help from developing a dry throat
• Relax your voice as much as you can. Try to avoid talking or singing too loudly or for extended periods of time. If you need to speak before large gatherings, try to use a megaphone or a microphone.
Drink plenty of fluids to counteract dehydration (avoid alcohol and caffeine).
•Moisten your throat. Try sucking on lozenges, swishing and gargling with salt water or chewing a piece of gum.
Dont take any decongestants. These medications can dry out your throat.
Avoid whispering. This puts even more tension and pressure on your voice than normal speech does.
Preparing for your appointment
You’re likely to start by seeing your family physician, a general practitioner or a pediatrician. You may be assigned to a doctor concentrating on disorders of the ear, nose and throat (otorhinolaryngologist).