Laryngitis develops if the voice box or vocal chords are inflamed from irritation, overuse or infection. The condition can be acute or lasting less than 3 weeks or chronic which lasts more than 3 weeks.
Various conditions can trigger the inflammation that results to laryngitis. Environmental triggers as well as viral and bacterial infections can cause the condition.
- Loss of voice
- Weakened voice
- Dry, hoarse throat
- Dry cough
- Constant tickling sensation or minor irritation in the throat
The symptoms are generally mild and can be managed by allowing the voice to rest. Drinking water or other non-caffeinated beverages can help lubricate the throat.
When to consult a doctor
There are some symptoms that might indicate a serious underlying issue such as:
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Debilitating throat pain
- Fever that does not settle with treatment
A doctor must be consulted if the common symptoms do not settle after a week or they worsen.
Management of laryngitis
In case the cause of acute laryngitis is a virus, the symptoms generally settle without treatment within 7 days. The bacterial form is managed using antibiotics but this form is considered rare.
Corticosteroids might be prescribed by the doctor which work by reducing the inflammation. These medications are used for both acute and chronic laryngitis. Additionally, it also reduces swelling of the voice box and vocal chords.
Other treatment measures include the following:
- Use a humidifier or breathe in steam to reduce the dryness
- Vocal therapy can be used to assess and correct the way the individual uses his/her voice and any abnormal speech patterns that strains on the voice box and vocal chords
- Increase the intake of fluids
- Allow the voice to rest
- Gargle a solution of salt and baking soda mixed in a glass of warm water
- Avoid talking loudly or screaming for extended periods of time
- Suck on lozenges to keep the throat properly lubricated
- Avoid whispering since this can strain on the voice
The ideal way to keep the voice box and vocal cords healthy is to keep them lubricated and free from any irritants.
- Avoid smoking and being around those who smoke
- Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace
- Limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid foods that trigger heartburn and indigestion
- Regularly wash hands to avoid respiratory infections