Having a sore throat accompanied by voice impairment is what laryngitis is all about. Laryngitis refers to inflammation of the larynx, i.e., the vocal cords associated with the respiratory tract. Commonly, laryngitis by itself does not pose any threat but may occasionally lead to more severe complications such as breathing problems and even death.
Laryngitis symptoms can be very unpleasant. You may cough a lot, have trouble swallowing, and feel like you have a raw dry throat. What is laryngitis? It’s a throat infection caused by an imbalance of the body’s natural defenses that often results in a sore throat, ear infection, and difficulty breathing. Learn how to cope with laryngitis naturally.
And, there is good news: with the correct home remedies, you can get fast relief from your symptoms in just a couple of hours! Many people nowadays have been able to cure this condition at home. The solution? Hydrate, rest and eat right when you have laryngitis.
What Is Laryngitis?
Laryngitis is a swelling of the vocal cords that makes it hard to speak or sing. Laryngitis is inflammation of the vocal cords, two bands of tissue that lie at the top of your windpipe (trachea). The vocal cords help you speak, sing, and sometimes cough. They vibrate when air passes through your voice box (larynx) during speech or singing.
Laryngitis can be caused by a viral infection, such as a cold or flu, or by an allergic reaction to something you inhaled, such as cigarette smoke or perfume. Chemicals in medication and irritants such as smoke, chemicals, and dust also can cause laryngitis.
The condition usually clears on its own within two weeks. However, overuse of your voice — for example, shouting — can prolong the symptoms and make them worse.
Top 5 Causes of Laryngitis
Laryngitis is one of the most common reasons people lose their voices, especially children and young adults. It’s also more common in people with allergies or asthma, who may have problems with their immune system and can’t fight off infections as well as healthy people.
Here are five common causes of laryngitis:
1. Viral Infection
A viral infection like the common cold can cause laryngitis. It is the most common cause of laryngitis, accounting for 60% to 80% of cases. The condition is usually caused by a virus that irritates the vocal cords and causes swelling, which affects one or both sides of the vocal cords at once. This swelling is often accompanied by hoarseness and other symptoms such as coughing and sore throat.
2. Allergic Reaction
Laryngitis can also be caused by allergies that affect your respiratory systems, such as hay fever or asthma. In this case, you may experience swelling of your vocal cords and other symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
3. Voice Overuse
You can suffer from voice overuse laryngitis if you use your voice excessively daily to get things done more efficiently or faster (VOLD). This type of laryngitis is also known as “vocal cord nodules” or “laryngeal edema.” The symptoms include hoarseness and loss of pitch control during a speech; however, they can permanently damage your vocal cords if not appropriately treated.
4. Acid Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD occurs when stomach acid flows into your esophagus, usually because one or more of your lower esophageal sphincter muscles aren’t working correctly. GERD can cause sores in the throat called reflux esophagitis, leading to laryngitis symptoms like hoarseness and difficulty swallowing or breathing.
5. Bacterial Infections
Bacteria can cause laryngitis, too; bacteria can infect your vocal cords even if you don’t have symptoms like a sore throat or cough. When bacteria get stuck in your throat or mouth, they can irritate your vocal cords and swell up, leading to hoarseness and other symptoms of laryngitis.
The symptoms of laryngitis include:
- Hoarseness of voice
- Pain and soreness in the throat area
- Difficulty swallowing food and drink
- Dry cough
- Hoarseness or loss of voice
- Pain in the throat
- Painful swallowing
When Should You See A Doctor For Laryngitis?
The symptoms of laryngitis usually improve within one or two weeks with home treatment, such as rest and plenty of fluids. If your symptoms are mild or moderate and don’t improve after a week of self-care, see your doctor for more specific treatment options and further testing (such as blood tests).
If your laryngitis is caused by a bacterial infection (bacterial tracheitis), you should seek medical attention immediately because it can lead to complications if left untreated.
Moreover, if you have difficulty swallowing or breathing or are having trouble breathing when you sleep, call your doctor immediately.
If you have pain in your neck, ear pain, or hearing loss, get medical attention immediately because these symptoms could indicate serious underlying problems like a blood clot in your neck arteries (carotid artery dissection) or swollen lymph nodes due to cancer (lymphadenopathy).
How Is Laryngitis Diagnosed?
Laryngitis is diagnosed by a physical examination and a medical history. A doctor also may order tests to rule out other problems.
• Physical Exam
During the physical exam, the doctor will look at your throat and listen to your breathing sounds. They may also do some other tests:
In this test, a tube with a light on it is inserted through your nose or mouth into your throat while you’re lying on your back. This allows the doctor to see the vocal cords and other structures in your throat.
In this test, a tiny camera attached to a flexible tube is passed through your mouth into your throat so the doctor can see the vocal cords moving when you speak and cough. The camera sends images to a computer screen for analysis by the doctor.
• Voice Evaluation Protocol (VEP)
With this test, you read several words aloud into a microphone connected to computer software that analyzes the quality of your voice by comparing it with the everyday agents of healthy people of the same age and sex.
Can Laryngitis Be Prevented?
If you’re suffering from laryngitis, you can do a few things to make yourself more comfortable while it heals. These include:
- Drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain and fever.
- Eating nutritious food helps your body fight off the infection.
- Speaking softly and avoiding loud noises that could worsen your symptoms.
- Try sucking ice cubes to eliminate any mucus buildup in your throat.
- Try gargling with warm salt water (1 teaspoon salt dissolved in 1 cup of warm water) several times a day.
Laryngitis is often treated with rest and drinking plenty of fluids. If your doctor believes you have laryngitis due to another problem, they may prescribe medication for the underlying cause.
If you have mild laryngitis, you may not need any treatment. But if your voice has become hoarse or your throat is painful, many treatments can help. These include rest and fluids, over-the-counter pain medicines (such as ibuprofen), warm liquids, and steam treatments for congestion.
If your symptoms don’t improve after 2 weeks, you should see your doctor make sure that your laryngitis isn’t due to something more serious.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Acute Laryngitis?
The recovery time depends on several factors, including your age and overall health. In general, most people recover within 2 weeks.
Children usually get better faster than adults and often return to school after one week.
The length of the course of acute laryngitis varies from person to person, but it usually lasts about one week. The symptoms may come on suddenly and last for about a week before gradually improving over several days.
Acute laryngitis typically lasts 7 to 10 days in adults but can last longer if complications occur or you have the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other lung conditions.
In children, acute laryngotracheobronchitis (croup) usually lasts 5 to 7 days but may persist longer depending on the severity of the illness. In infants younger than 6 months old who have croup, it can survive up to 14 days or more even after all symptoms are gone.
You should visit an emergency room immediately if you’re experiencing laryngitis symptoms, such as hoarseness and a sore throat. Laryngitis is a severe condition that can be connected to a multitude of other illnesses.
These commonly include the common cold, bronchitis, and even HIV/AIDS. If further medical attention isn’t necessary, you can assure the best possible outcome by taking proper care at home.
With the winter season upon us, there’s no better time to visit University Urgent Care. It provides expert care for common ailments, one of which is laryngitis (loss of voice), which can plague you every time you attempt to speak. And symptoms of laryngitis are so common that even healthy patients can catch a cold or become congested at inopportune times.