What is Laryngitis?
Laryngitis is swelling and irritation of the larynx (voice box). It causes hoarseness and, in some cases, voice loss. It can be acute (short-lived) or chronic (long-lasting), but it is usually the result of a temporary viral infection or vocal strain, which clears up quickly. Persistent laryngitis that lasts longer than two weeks could be the sign of a serious condition and should be evaluated by a doctor.
Your vocal cords, located inside the larynx, work by opening and closing, forming sounds when they vibrate. But when they become inflamed, sounds are distorted, making your voice sound hoarse and – in some cases – indiscernible. This can be caused by a number of factors including colds, viral infections, allergies, misuse of the voice, bacterial infections, acid reflux, sinus infections, vocal cord lesions and smoking. In addition to hoarseness, you may experience a dry or sore throat, coughing and difficulty swallowing.
How is laryngitis treated?
Treatment for laryngitis depends on what is causing your symptoms. To find this out, your doctor will give you a physical examination and carefully inspect your nose, mouth and throat. Diagnostic testing to check for allergies or lesions may be ordered.
Home remedies are often the best treatment for laryngitis, especially when it’s acute. Your main priority should be resting your voice, using it only when absolutely necessary. Attempting to speak while suffering from laryngitis can result in permanent damage of your vocal cores. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can lead to dehydration. A warm saltwater gargle several times a day can help relieve discomfort. Stay away from cigarettes, which can cause irritation and may worsen your condition.