Information on Laryngitis, an Inflammation of the Larynx. Natural Remedies for Laryngitis and Hoarseness.
Select a Topic
- What is Laryngitis?
- Diagnosing Laryngitis
- What Causes Laryngitis?
- Help for Laryngitis
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What is Laryngitis?
When we speak, we use two membranes (vocal cords) in the larynx (voice box). These chords vibrate to make sound and therefore allow us to speak, shout, and sing.
Laryngitis refers to inflammation or irritation of the tissues of the larynx. Laryngitis causes a hoarse voice or the complete loss of the voice because of this irritation to the vocal folds or cords.
Mild cases of laryngitis are usually self-diagnosed, but an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) can visualize the larynx and conclusively diagnose laryngitis. Commonly the first signs are slight redness and dryness of the larynx lining, with stringy mucus between the vocal cords.
The most common symptoms of laryngitis are a weak, hoarse, gravely voice; sore throat, fever, dry cough, a tickling in the back of the throat, and difficulty swallowing. There are two classifications of laryngitis:
- Acute laryngitis-- categorized as acute if it lasts less than a few days
- Chronic laryngitis-- categorized as chronic if it lasts over 3 weeks
What are the Causes of Laryngitis?
Almost everyone has experienced a sudden onset of laryngitis, usually associated with a viral infection of the upper airways. The most common cause of laryngitis is a viral infection. Laryngitis does not always end when the viral infection is over. The hoarseness may continue for several days to a week or longer after the infection has been treated.
Laryngitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection, but the inflammation of the larynx and laryngitis can also be caused by any kind of stress (not only infective) on the vocal chords.
- Vocal overuse
- Smoking and other inhaled irritants
- Drinking of spirits
- Contact with caustic or acidic substances (including acid reflux from the stomach)
- Allergic reaction
- Direct physical trauma
- Cheering at a sporting event
- Talking very loudly for excessive periods of time
- Viral infection
- Bacterial or fungal infection
- Inflammation due to overuse of the vocal cords
- Excessive coughing
Help for Laryngitis
Correct treatment depends on the underlying cause of laryngitis. Some of the most common remedies for laryngitis are as simple as sucking on lozenges and sweets and avoiding places where there are irritants like smoke.
Aspirin may help to alleviate pain temporarily and antibiotics are rarely necessary. If laryngitis is due to a virus, some prescribed medications may help alleviate fever and some of the discomfort associated with laryngitis. Sometimes laryngitis is a symptom of tonsillitis or bronchitis. In acute laryngitis due to a cold, the viral infection is almost always quickly conquered by the body’s immune system and lasts at most a few days.
Should hoarseness last for more than 3 weeks, one should consult an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat physician) for an examination including direct visualization of the vocal cords. This examination may also detect the presence of vocal cord nodules, a structural change resulting in persistent hoarseness, or loss of voice.