Laryngitis is an inflammation of your voice box (larynx) from overuse, irritation or infection. This organ (larynx) sits in your upper neck just past the back of your throat. The larynx is the voice box that allows us to speak, shout, whisper, and sing. The larynx consists of a cartilage skeleton that houses the vocal cords, which are covered by a mucus lining. Muscles inside the larynx adjust the position, shape, and tension of the vocal cords, allowing the voice to make different sounds like whispering, singing, and shouting. Any change in the airflow (which is generated by the lungs exhaling air) across the vocal cords will affect the voice and the quality of the sound. Swelling of the vocal cords muffles sound, and you are hoarse. When you try to talk, all that comes out is a whisper or squeak.
Laryngitis usually isn’t a serious problem. If the laryngitis is from a viral or bacterial infection, it is possible that the specific virus or bacteria can be contagious.
With proper treatment, acute (short-lived) laryngitis should go away in no more than 3 weeks. But sometimes, laryngitis lasts longer and becomes chronic.
The most common symptoms of laryngitis
• Feeling a tickle in the throat (that may be from reflux laryngitis)
• Cough (that can be from bronchitis or sinusitis)
• The urge to constantly clear the throat (that may be from reflux laryngitis)
Often laryngitis may develop in addition to, or a few days after a sore throat. Even after the infection has resolved, the laryngitis may linger for a few weeks.
There are a number of different causes of acute and chronic laryngitis.
Causes of acute laryngitis
Most cases of laryngitis are temporary and improve after the underlying cause gets better. Causes of acute laryngitis include:
• Viral infections similar to those that cause a cold
• Vocal strain, caused by yelling or overusing your voice
• Bacterial infections, although these are less common
Causes of chronic laryngitis
Laryngitis is considered chronic when symptoms last than three weeks, and it may be caused by:
• Prolonged alcohol use
• Exposure to polluted air
• Constant exposure to secondhand smoke
• Excess coughing
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
• Chronic irritation of the vocal cords
• Repetitive use of inhalers.
Other causes of chronic hoarseness include:
• Vocal cord paralysis, which can result from nerve injury due to surgery, injury to the chest or neck, cancer, nerve disorders, or other health conditions
• Bowing of the vocal cords
Risk Factors –
Risk factors for laryngitis include:
• Having a respiratory infection,such as a cold, bronchitis or sinusitis
• Overusing your voice,by speaking too much, speaking too loudly, shouting or singing
• Exposure to irritating substances, such as cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol intake, stomach acid or workplace chemicals
Laryngitis can be very serious in children. Watch for fever and call a doctor if your child is:
• Younger than 3 months old and has a temperature of 100 F or higher, or is older than 3 months and has a fever of 102 F or higher
• Having trouble swallowing or breathing, is making high-pitched sounds when inhaling, or is drooling more than usual
In kids, it may lead to croup, a narrowing of the airways, or epiglottitis, an inflammation of the flap at the top of the larynx. This condition can be life-threatening, so get emergency treatment if you or a child in your care has had laryngitis and starts gasping or having any trouble breathing.
Your doctor often starts with a visual diagnosis, using a special mirror to view your vocal cords. They might also perform a laryngoscopy to magnify the voice box for easy viewing.
Your doctor then looks for the following signs of laryngitis:
• widespread swelling, a sign of environmental causes of laryngitis
• lesions on the voice box
• vocal cord swelling, which can be a sign that you’ve overused your vocal cords
If your doctor sees a lesion or other suspicious mass, they may order a biopsy to rule out throat cancer. During a biopsy, your doctor removes a small piece of tissue so it can be examined in a lab.
The best treatment is to rest your voice. Without the stress of everyday use, it will often recover on its own.
• Corticosteroids. If your need to speak clearly is urgent, a doctor may prescribe corticosteroids. This is a class of man-made drugs that mimic hormones, such as cortisol, that your body makes naturally. They reduce swelling.
• Antibiotics. If you have a bacterial infection, you may be given antibiotics. But laryngitis is very rarely caused by bacteria. And antibiotics will not help with viral laryngitis.
• Pain medications. If you’re in pain, you can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always follow the instructions about how often and how much to take.
• Voice therapy. A speech-language therapist teaches you how to care for your voice and reduce behaviors that strain it.
▪︎ Home Care
You can try a number of home remedies to aid in your healing:
• Drink plenty of fluids. Early on, swallowing may be painful, but the more you’re hydrated, the better. But avoid alcohol and caffeine.
• Use humidifiers and menthol inhalers. Moisture is your friend, and menthol can be soothing.
• Gargle with warm salt water. The salinity not only soothes the area, but also reduces swelling.
• You may also suck on throat lozenges, which often contain herbs such as eucalyptus and mint, known for calming sore throats.
• Avoid dry, smoky, or dusty rooms.
• Stay away from decongestants. They dry you out when your throat wants moisture.
• Don’t whisper. That actually puts more strain on your vocal cords.
• Take 5 cups of water in a wide mouthed vessel. Heat it. Put 5 drops of Eucalyptus oil or pine oil to it. Inhale the steam for 5 minutes. Repeat it 3 – 5 times in a day.
Inhalationloosens the secretions and consolidated phlegm
To prevent dryness or irritation to your vocal cords:
• Avoid smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.Smoke dries your throat. It can also cause your vocal cords to become irritated.
• Drink plenty of water. Fluids help keep the mucus in your throat thin and easy to clear.
• Avoid upper respiratory infections. Wash your hands often, and avoid contact with people who have upper respiratory infections such as colds.
• Limit alcohol and caffeine.These cause you to lose total body water.
• Keep spicy foods out of your diet.Spicy foods can cause stomach acid to go into the throat or esophagus. This can lead to heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
• Include a variety of healthy foods in your diet.Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These have several vitamins, such as vitamins A, E and C, that are important for overall health. These foods can also help keep the mucous membranes in the throat healthy.
• Avoid clearing your throat.This does more harm than good, because it causes an abnormal vibration of your vocal cords and can increase swelling. Clearing your throat also causes your throat to secrete more mucus and feel more irritated, making you want to clear your throat again.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
In Ayurvedic texts, Laryngitis with special reference to hoarseness of voice and partial or temporary loss of voice has been explained in the context of Svara Bheda.
Ayurvedic Home Remedies –
• Add 1 spoon of Cinnamon powder to boiling water and close the glass with a lid. When it becomes warm, add a pinch of pepper powder and 2 spoons honey. Take it once or twice daily.
• Boil ½ to 1 teaspoon full of liquorice (coarse powder) in 1 glass of water, filter and consume warm or mix ½ teaspoon full of liquorice (fine powder) in hot milk and take it to get relieved from laryngitis. If liquorice is boiled until half water is reduced, it provides better results.
• Crush 8-10 Tulsi (basil) leaves and extract their juice. Mix it with 1 spoon honey and take it.
• ¼ spoon honey + ¼ spoon ginger juice – should be taken in drops and slowly sucked.
• Honey and Ghee mixed in unequal quantities
Beneficial Herbs –
• Pippali – Piper longum
• Ela – Elettaria cardamomum
• Yashtimadhu – Glycyrrhiza glabra
• Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum
• Amalaki – Emblica officinalis
• Ardraka – Zingiber officinale
• Twak – Cinnamomum zeylanica
Ayurvedic formulations –
• Eladi vati
• Khadiradi vati
• Vyoshadi vati
• Talishadi churna
• Mulethi churna
• Vasa Ghritam
• Kantakari Ghritam
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