The voice box which is also known as the larynx, and vocal cords can start swelling, and cause irritation which is caused by a condition called laryngitis. It is not permanent and can fade with time. It is characterized by your voice becoming hoarse and sometimes complete loss of speech. Most causes are temporary in nature and can improve after the underlying cause is taken care of. There are various causes of acute and chronic laryngitis that affect the larynx:
• Acid reflux, which is also known as gastro esophageal reflux disease
• Too much shouting or vocal strain by singing or other activities
• Viral infections that are similar to those that cause a cold
• Bacterial infections
• Chronic laryngitis can be caused by inhaled irritants such as chemical fumes, allergens or smoke
• Chronic sinusitis
• Excessive intake and use of alcohol
Less common causes for laryngitis include bacterial of fungal infections and infections with certain kinds of parasites. Other causes of chronic laryngitis and hoarseness could also include things like cancer, vocal cord paralysis and bowing of the vocal chords in old age.
Effects of the flu or other infections
The effects can be very adverse if you are allergic, and you suffer from pneumonia. Other chemicals can exacerbate symptoms such as chemicals that cause irritation. It is possible to treat it by resting and hydrating properly. Note that some cases can require a surgery contacted by a qualified physician.
It is easy to recover from Laryngitis, but it will depend on how severe the condition has become. Most commonly it is an acute infection, and you can manage and treat it from your home. In the event that it has persisted for longer than ten days, it is advisable that you visit a doctor. At this point the condition is considered much more severe.
Home Treatment and Lifestyle
Acute laryngitis can often get better on its own within a matter of a week or so. Self help and self care measures can also help improve symptoms and provide relief. For chronic laryngitis, on the other hand, treatment includes treating the underlying causes such as heartburn, smoking or excessive intake of alcohol. For many patients, doctors recommend medicinal treatments. Medicines that can be used are as follows:
Antibiotics: While these are not useful to treat laryngitis that is caused by viral infections, they can certainly be used to treat symptoms of laryngitis that has been caused by bacterial infections. Use of antibiotics should be only done after consultation with your doctor.
Corticosteroids: These can help reduce vocal cord inflammations but are only used in cases where there is an urgent need to treat laryngitis. Urgent cases like when you need to use your voice to sing or give a speech that important and so on.
There are some practices that you can employ from your home and reduce the strain on your voice. These are some methods:
• Make sure that the air you are breathing is moist by using a humidifier. Another way would be inhaling steam from boiling water or from a hot/warm bath.
• Avoid too much talking especially when addressing a crowd. If you are talking to a large crowd, consider a microphone to avoid straining your voice.
• Make sure you are hydrated and are drinking plenty of fluids and water.
• Keeping your throat moist is advisable. It can be done by sucking on lozenges
• Whispering can be even more harmful on your voice is certain cases, so avoid this as well.
• You should avoid the use of decongestants as these will make your throat dry
• You can do aspirin gargles or other gargles that provide relief to your throat
• Avoid the use of things that can cause irritation to your throat
Signs and Symptoms
Though the most common symptom of laryngitis is your voice becoming hoarse, there are also other signs and symptoms which include:
- Very low or even lack of voice
- A tiring voice
- Always having to clear your throat
- Frequently having mucus in your throat
- Experiencing difficulties when swallowing
- Persistent coughing
The expected duration
Laryngitis does not last long, but there is a possibility of it continuing for more than two weeks. If it continues for such a period, it should be noted that it is becoming chronic. At this stage, it is important to visit a physician for medication. The people mostly affected are those who persistently smoke heavy consumers of alcoholic substances, people who work in dusty environments or work with chemicals, and those who shout too often.
How it can be prevented
To avoid this condition, there are some steps that you should take:
- Avoid excessive smoking and limit the frequency of smoking
- Avoid passive smoking
- Avoid drinking alcohol excessively and avoid the intake of too much caffeine
- Avoid unnecessary shouting
- When working in a dusty or chemical-ridden environment practice safety first
- Moisturize the air in your home
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids as these can help keep the mucus thin
- Avoid eating spicy food as this can cause stomach acid to move into the throat and thus can cause acid reflux
- Avoid being infected by any upper respiratory infections. You can do this by washing your hand regularly and staying away from people who have a cold.
Taking steps to change your lifestyle to avoid laryngitis is a wise decision. If you are always smoking or drinking heavily, it is advisable that you stop these habits, and you will have made a step to upgrade your health by avoiding laryngitis. For those who work with chemicals or those who work in a dusty environment, it is important that you take the necessary precautions in avoiding these catalysts.
Meanwhile, if you are suffering from laryngitis and you continue exposing yourself despite constant warnings from your doctor, you will eventually suffer from nodules which are finger-like growths on the vocal cords and surgery may be required to remove them to enhance your voice again.