Laryngitis is a throat condition that causes inflammation of the voice box or larynx mainly due to overuse of voice, irritation and infections. The vocal cords are present inside the larynx, which is basically two folds of mucous membrane around muscle and cartilage. Generally, your vocal cords open and close smoothly, developing sounds with the help of their movement and vibration. However, in laryngitis, your vocal cords can become inflamed or irritated. This makes the vocal cords inflammed, which disturbs the sounds produced by air passing through them. In conclusion, your voice gets hoarse.
In some cases of laryngitis, your voice loss can range from mild to severe. Laryngitis can be of two types, mainly acute and chronic. Most of the cases of laryngitis are caused by a temporary viral infection and do not cause severe problems. Persistent hoarseness can also be an indication towards a more serious underlying medical condition. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. M N Shankar, Senior Consultant, ENT/ Otorhinolaryngology, Fortis Malar Hospital, about the symptoms, causes and treatment of Laryngitis.
Mostly, in this condition, the symptoms do not last more than a couple of weeks and are caused by something minor, such as a virus or bacteria. In rare cases, laryngitis symptoms are caused by something severe or long lasting. According to Dr. M N Shankar, the symptoms of laryngitis are:
- Sore throat
- Dry throat
- Dry cough
- Weak voice
- Complete voice loss
- Hoarse voice
- Breathing difficulty
- Difficulty in swallowing
These signs and symptoms often tell us about the inflammation of our voice box and the airway below it. Most of the cases of laryngitis are temporary and the patients recover after the underlying cause improves. As per Dr. M N Shankar, here are the main causes of acute as well as chronic laryngitis:
- Vocal strain
- Viral infection
- Bacterial infections
- Acid reflux
- Inhalation of chemical fumes or smoke
- Too much alcohol
- Chronic sinus
- Overuse of loud voice due to profession (such as teachers, singers and cheerleaders)
Laryngitis diagnosis and treatment
The most common sign of laryngitis is hoarseness. Changes in your voice can be different according to the kind of infection, resulting in mild hoarse voice or complete voice loss. If you experience chronic hoarseness, your doctor might ask and check your medical history and other related symptoms. The health care expert might listen to your voice and examine your vocal cords, then you will have to visit an ENT for later diagnosis.
Acute laryngitis often gets better on its own within a week or so. Some good lifestyle choice, self care measures, voice rest, drinking enough fluids and humidifying your air can improve symptoms. Chronic laryngitis treatments are majorly focused on treating the underlying causes, such as heartburn, smoking or too much alcohol. According to Dr. M N Shankar, here are some home remedies that can help in coping up with this condition:
1. Drink hot water
Drinking hot water is one of the most common and best home remedy to treat laryngitis. It is adviced to drink warm or hot water only, instead of cold water, whenever you feel thirsty. Drinking hot water can also be soothing and reduces many laryngitis symptoms such as sore throat and hoarseness of voice.
2. Use a humidifier
Using a humidifier in your room becomes necessary to prevent any respiratory problems. It is beneficial to put a humidifier in your room, for the betterment of your health and skin as well. This can keep you warm, moisturized and safe from any unnecessary health problems. It is a good way to treat laryngitis. Humidifiers help to add moisture into the air, which can also be helpful for your throat. More moisture in the air can prevent other respiratory problems too.
3. Drink enough fluids
One should drink enough amount of fluids as a home remedy for laryngitis. However, the beverages should be hot and not cold at all, like herbal tea. You have to keep your throat moist and your body hydrated in order to soothe it. Also, avoid the intake of alcohol and caffeine.
4. Avoid smoking and other fumes
Cigarette smoking is one of the causes of laryngitis, hence it should be avoided as much as possible. In fact, even alcohol should be consumed in moderate amounts. Inhalation of other chemical fumes and toxic substances should also be avoided as a natural remedy for this condition.
Read more articles on Other diseases