Laryngitis is a condition of inflammation and irritation of the larynx (voice box). Since the voice box contains the vocal chords, laryngitis often results in a hoarse voice or a complete loss of voice temporarily. Most of the time, laryngitis is caused due to a viral infection or due to strain on the vocal chords. The condition is classified as acute if it lasts for three weeks or less and chronic if it lasts longer than three weeks.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics treat laryngitis that is caused by a bacterial infection and not a viral infection.
- Antacids: Anti-acid medication may be given if your symptoms are caused by acid made in the stomach.
- Anti-fungal medicine: These medicines are prescribed when the laryngitis is caused by fungal infection.
- Painkillers: Painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are often found to be helpful to lessen the symptoms of pain, fever and inflammation.
The symptoms of Laryngitis usually clear within a couple of weeks, and all that is required by the patient is to give the voice rest and drink plenty of fluids. However, if these symptoms persist, a visit to the doctor is recommended. Here are some common symptoms of laryngitis:
- Sore throat
- Hoarseness of voice
- Dry throat
- Swelling in the throat
- Pain in the throat
- Trouble in swallowing
- Cold-like symptoms
- Weak or no voice for some time
- Sensation or tickling in the larynx
However, it must be noted that not all the laryngitis symptoms are present at the same time. Some people will experience fewer symptoms than others and vice versa.
Although there are plenty of causes behind Laryngitis, most of the times the condition starts with one of the following causes:
- Viral infection: The most common reason of Laryngitis is a viral infection that is similar to the ones causing cold and flu.
- Straining the vocal chords: The second most common cause of laryngitis is putting excessive strain on the vocal chords. People who use their voice too much, like speakers, teachers, singers, etc., tend to have more strain on their vocal chords than those who do not use their voice so much.
- Bacterial or fungal infections: Sometimes, laryngitis can be caused by bacterial or fungal infections, which may prolong the symptoms.
- Lifestyle: Other causes of laryngitis include habits like excessive smoking or drinking, being exposed to irritants, chronic sinusitis, etc.
The diagnosis of Laryngitis is usually done by a physical examination of your vocal chords (voice box) in the following ways:
- Physical examination: Most doctors examine the larynx with the help of special mirror designed for the purpose.
- Laryngoscopy: The doctor may also choose to do a laryngoscopy, which works by inserting a thin tube with a camera into the larynx. It is usually done when the doctor suspects something more than an infection.
Upon diagnosis, laryngitis can be classified as acute or chronic, and the medication and treatment begins. Also, the diagnosis is helpful to rule out other complications like abnormal growth on the vocal chord or any spreading of the infection.
Laryngitis usually lasts for a week and gets better on its own. Home remedies like drinking enough fluids and resting of the vocal chords often prove beneficial. Below you will find some of the typical treatments of laryngitis.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are usually not recommended for treatment of Laryngitis because the condition is mostly caused by viral infections. However, if the cause is bacterial, antibiotics are recommended.
- Corticosteroids: The use of corticosteroid reduces the inflammation of the vocal chords, especially when there is an urgent need to use one’s voice.
- Vaporizer and Humidifiers: Sometimes, the use of vaporizers as well as humidifiers is recommended to relieve an inflammed larynx.