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Simply put, laryngitis is inflammation of the larynx, which is commonly known as the voice box. Your voice automatically changes when the vocal cord is inflamed or irritated.

Acute laryngitis is short term; the infection goes away within a week or two while chronic case is long lasting i.e. it persists for more than 2 weeks.

Symptoms of laryngitis

  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Loss of voice- suppressed voice
  • Sore, painful and dry throat
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Rawness inside throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes around neck
  • Flu like  symptoms- cough, fever
  • Upper respiratory tract infection

Causes of Laryngitis

The common causes of laryngitis are:

  • Viral infection and bacterial infection
  • Straining the vocal cord – shouting, yelling, loud signing
  • Allergies from pollutants

Chronic laryngitis occurs due to:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Excessive smoking and alcohol use
  • Accidental inhalation of chemicals, smoke and other allergens
  • Damage of vocal cord nerves
  • Growth of lumps, nodules and polyps in vocal cords

When to see a doctor?

Usually the symptoms can be managed at home. However, if you or your kid experiences shortness of breath, trouble in swallowing, and has high fever, then you must immediately go for medical check up.

Are there any complications of laryngitis?

If the infection is not controlled, then it can inflame other parts of the respiratory tract like the epiglottis, trachea, bronchioles, etc.

Diagnosis of laryngitis

You need to visit an ENT specialist who will physically examine your throat and feel your lymph nodes for swelling. You need to explain your doctor since when you have been experiencing hoarseness and if you were exposed to allergens.

Your doctor would also listen to your breathing sound with the help of a stethoscope. Further, laryngoscopy (just like endoscopy) will be done to check the internal condition of your vocal cord and throat.

Additionally, if the doctor suspects abnormality, like – polyps or tumour, then a biopsy will be done.

Treatment of Laryngitis

As said before, home remedies work wonders in healing infection, so your doctor would also suggest those.

However, acute cases will definitely need treatment for the underlying cause.

A certain dose of antibiotics will be prescribed to treat the infection. You can have OTC pain killers for controlling pain in throat. Otherwise, severe inflammation in vocal cords and other discomfort may be treated with a short term dose of corticosteroids.  

Major damage to vocal cords and polyps may also require surgery.

Home care for laryngitis

Laryngitis can be cured within a week when you take proper care of yourself at home. Try the following therapies for improving the symptoms:

  • Lifestyle change: Stay away from alcohol and smoking when you have chronic infection. Cover your nose and mouth while travelling to avoid getting exposed to chemicals and allergens. Protect yourself from cold.
  • Diet: Avoid eating spicy food. Consume plenty of fluids like soups and warm beverages (esp. ginger tea) to soothe your throat
  • Rest your voice until it’s restored. Avoid unnecessary chats, singing, shouting, and other activities that would strain your voice
  • Inhale steam, at least once a day and gurgle with warm water mixed with salt several times in a day
  • Inhale moist hair. Adjust the humidity of your room and work station. Breathe consciously with your nose and not mouth while sleeping

Take care of yourself and get back your lost voice asap!

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 29, 2015

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