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Laryngitis

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What is Laryngitis?

The most frequent condition that plagues us is common cold. And one of the common complaints is I have got a sore throat. We suffer the pain as we try to get through our day swallowing with great difficulty. Another aspect of the common cold invariably is a change in our voice. We tend to sound more hoarse. This is because our larynx is swollen or inflamed.

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To give a very brief description, our larynx, among other functions, produces our very own distinctive voice. When the larynx is affected by factors, such as an infection, or is irritated due to environmental factors (e.g. dust), or the larynx has been used far more than usual (e.g. talking continuously for specific programs or functions), the larynx gets swollen or inflamed. This condition of the larynx is called laryngitis.

Laryngitis -  Laryngeal Inflammation

Laryngitis is of 2 types: acute (temporary) and chronic (permanent). Acute laryngitis is associated with the chief symptom of hoarseness. The hoarseness in the voice manifests as either roughness, filled with tremors, raspiness, weakness in voice strength, changed voice pitch (high or low), or a strangled tone.

Laryngitis in Adults

Laryngitis does not usually cause serious issues in adults. The condition usually resolves itself in due course of time.

What are the Causes of Laryngitis?

Acute laryngitis is caused by:
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Vocal abuse over a short period of time (Shouting, talking loudly, singing, cheering)
  • Bacterial, fungal and viral infections (e.g. bronchitis, cold, candida laryngitis)
Chronic laryngitis is caused by:
  • Allergies
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux a.k.a GERD - gastroesophageal reflux disease (a condition in which acid from the stomach regurgitates back into the food pipe and reach the throat)
  • Use of corticosteroids (e.g. fluticasone see below)
  • Smoking
  • Vocal abuse or overuse over a prolonged period (Shouting, talking loudly, singing, cheering)
Vocal Abuse can Cause Laryngitis

Other causes of laryngitis are paralysis of the vocal cord, benign lesions of the vocal cord, hemorrhage of the vocal cord, tumors, arthritis, hypothyroidism, and muscular conditions (e.g. myasthenia gravis).

Steroid inhaler laryngitis, a type of chronic laryngitis, is caused by the use of a medication called fluticasone. The drug fluticasone is used to treat respiratory conditions like asthma. Steroid inhaler laryngitis causes voice changes that get resolved when the drug is not used any more. The degree of laryngitis may be the combined effect of the drug and the reflux condition in an individual.

What are the Symptoms of Laryngitis?

Laryngitis exhibits the following symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Loss of Voice
  • Sore throat
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Constant throat clearing
  • Flu or cold
  • Annoying cough
Cough - Symptom of Laryngitis

How Do You Diagnose Laryngitis?

In order to find out the exact cause of laryngitis, it is important to take a sample culture or swab from the larynx. Examining the culture will determine the kind of infection.

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Laryngoscopy is another technique used to examine the larynx

Laryngitis due to gastroesophageal reflux disease is diagnosed with laryngoscopy and 24-hour pH monitoring.

How Do You Treat Laryngitis?

Basically, laryngitis caused by viral infections cannot be treated with any medication. Laryngitis due to bacterial infections is treated with antibiotics. However, for the most part, there is no treatment for laryngitis. General precautionary measures are taken to treat the condition. These are elaborated in the section on health tips.

Ibuprofen, paracetamol, and aspirin may be used to treat the fever and sore throat, and headache, which occur due to laryngitis.

A comprehensive survey concluded that drugs are not particularly effective in treating acute laryngitis. The few benefits seen with drugs do not exceed the side effects and costs associated with these medications.

Antihistamines are prescribed if laryngitis occurs due to allergies.

The beneficial effects of fusafungine are observed by the fifth day of the treatment. Erythromycin has beneficial effects on the voice in the first week and is effective for cough in the second week.

Health tips

There are many ways to reduce the symptoms of laryngitis and take care of the condition.

Nasal spray: Use a saline (saltwater) wash to spray your nostrils at regular intervals to deal with the stuffiness in the nose.

Use Nasal Spray to Clear Stuffy Nose

Give your voice a break: It helps to avoid talking on the telephone, talking a lot, talking in a loud voice. This will prevent the overuse of the voice box while giving the larynx time to heal.

Hydrate yourself: Drink a lot of fluids so your urine is light in color. Those with kidney, liver, or heart conditions, who cannot drink too many fluids should consult their doctor and take their advice.

Turn on the humidity: The vocal cords are helped when there is an increase in moisture in the surrounding air. It is good to keep a humidifier in the room to hydrate the room and, in turn, your vocal cords.

Keep the acids at bay: Eat healthy and at appropriate times. This is to avoid the reflux of acid into the throat, especially if you eat very close to bedtime. Reducing the amount of alcohol and coffee also prevents the acid from going back up to the throat.

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Do not irritate your throat: Instead of repeatedly clearing the throat, try taking medication for your cough as recommended by your physician

Check the medications: It is important to check the cautionary advice on the cover of medicines since some of them may not suit individuals with other health conditions. Some medications are specifically off-limits for children below 6 years.

Keep away from cigarette smoke: Smokers should avoid smoking and take steps to control their urges to smoke. Non-smokers can avoid being around those who smoke.

Keep Away from Cigarette Smoke

Home Remedies for Laryngitis

  • Gargle with salt water
  • Drink hot water mixed with lemon and honey to soothe the throat
  • Suck on throat lozenges

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