Laryngitis is an ailment related to the larynx or the voice box. Though it is very common, it affects one of the most vital functions of our body, that is speech. Knowing the cure and its prevention can prove handy in keeping this problem at bay.
Larynx, informally called the voice box, is present in the throat. The main job of this organ is to generate sound, and control its pitch and volume. Laryngitis is the inflammation or swelling of the mucous membrane of the larynx. It is one of the causes of dysphonia, a medical term for voice-related disorders. Viral infection being the main cause, larynx overuse (like shouting) and irritation could also be the reasons behind a swollen larynx. The treatment is simple and easily available, but it’s important to know the causes and symptoms first.
- Viral infection in most cases, but infection can be bacterial or fungal as well like the formation of cough
- Vocal overuse like cheering, shouting, or speaking for long durations, especially when the throat is dry
- Alcohol consumption and smoking
- Acid reflux disease or GERD, also called reflux laryngitis
- Allergic reaction or irritation
- Direct trauma to the throat or larynx
- Dry throat
- Voice turns hoarse, and in severe cases, only a whisper is audible
- Sensation of swelling in the throat around the larynx
- Postnasal drip or secretion of mucus from the rear of the nasal cavity to the throat
- Sharp pain during laryngeal movements while swallowing or speaking
- Difficulty in breathing
A proper diagnosis is important for treatment. An ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist diagnoses by inspecting the larynx. The doctor physically examines and feels the neck for lumps, and inspects the throat for inflammation. An otolaryngologist should be consulted if you have vocal problems that last for more than 2 weeks. It is said to be acute if it lasts for not more than a few days, or chronic if it lasts for more than 3 weeks.
Most of the time, the immune system of the body cures laryngitis caused due to cold or viral infection. The best way is to take rest and give less strain to the larynx by minimizing talking while the condition persists. Often, it lasts for less than a week. However, if the case is severe and detected late, the condition may last for a couple of weeks or even one month. There are various types of remedies available:
Antibiotics: If the throat is affected by microbial infection, doctors often prescribe antibiotics. Humatin and Omnicef are the most commonly prescribed ones. They help to counter the infection caused, and thereby reduce the inflammation.
Avoid Straining your Voice: Reducing stress to the vocal cords by not conversing in a loud and high-pitched voice is the most basic remedy. Minimizing the usage of the larynx is the aim here. People suffering from an inflamed larynx are often told to avoid all types of public speaking and simply rest their vocal cords.
Steam Inhalation: Inhaling steam from a trough full of hot, boiling water is another course that doctors may advocate for laryngitis treatment. Inhalation of steam helps in easing discomfort by reducing the swelling of the throat. But, it should be kept in mind that steam inhalation does not completely cure this condition. So, it is done mostly alongside other medications.
Corticosteroid Treatment: This is another treatment option to cure laryngitis. Corticosteroids can reduce the inflammation, and is effective in reducing discomfort and pain. This treatment is recommended in rare cases when someone needs urgent recovery for the purpose of singing concerts or presentations. Singers often suffer from this problem when their vocal cords are overused. This results in inflammation of the cords, and makes them vulnerable to infections.
Antacid Treatment: If laryngitis is caused due to acid reflux disease, then the patient is advised to take antacid medication like zantac or prilosec for about a month till the acid formation is reduced to permissible limits.
It is seen that these treatments are easily accessible, and they are also hugely successful. But, prevention is always better than cure. By taking a few basic preventive measures like abandoning smoking and drinking and reducing strain on your larynx, you can always keep laryngitis away.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.