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 is usually the result of a temporary viral infection or vocal strain and clears up quickly. Persistent laryngitis that lasts longer than two weeks could be a sign of a serious condition and should be evaluated by a doctor.
The 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 a person’s voice sound hoarse and – in some cases – indiscernible. This can be caused by a number of factors including colds and viral infections, allergies, misuse of the voice, bacterial infections, acid reflux, sinus infections, vocal cord lesions and smoking. A certain degree of hoarseness is common as we age.
Hoarseness is the main symptom associated with laryngitis. The patient’s voice can take on a raspy or breathy quality, may be deeper than usual and can break or crack. Some people lose their voice altogether. In addition to hoarseness, patients may experience a dry or sore throat, coughing and difficulty swallowing.
Laryngitis Treatment (Laryngoscopy)
Treatment for laryngitis depends on what is causing the symptoms. To find this out, a doctor will review the patient’s medical history and complete a physical exam. To get a better look at the patient’s larynx, a laryngoscopy will be performed. There are two ways to perform a laryngoscopy. One involves a light and a series of mirrors, once positioned correctly the doctor is able to see down the patient’s throat. The second type is the preferred method and involves inserting an endoscope through the patient’s nose or mouth. The endoscope is a thin flexible tube with a light and a camera on the end. Either of these versions will allow the doctor to take a closer look and watch how the patient’s vocal cords react when they speak.
Home Remedies for Laryngitis
Home remedies are often the best treatment for laryngitis, especially when it’s acute. The patient’s main priority should be resting their voice, using it only when absolutely necessary. Attempting to speak while suffering from laryngitis can result in permanent damage of the vocal cords. Individuals should keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can lead to dehydration. A warm saltwater gargle several times a day can help relieve discomfort. Cigarettes should be avoided, as they can cause irritation and may worsen the condition.
Call Southern Utah Ear, Nose, Throat, Allergy, and Facial Plastics at (435) 628-3334 for more information or to schedule an appointment.