What is laryngitis?
Laryngitis is a condition where inflammation develops in the voice box. This may be due to causes such as irritation, infection, or even vocal overuse. The larynx is the structure in which the vocal cords are housed. The vocal cords vibrate when you speak, producing voice. As a result, laryngitis can feel like a sore throat, accompanied by hoarseness when the vocal cords vibrate to produce voice.
Due to the multiple different causes of laryngitis, the treatments of laryngitis can vary as well.
What causes laryngitis?
Causes of laryngitis include:
- Voice overuse, such as prolonged yelling / shouting
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Inhaling irritants
- Fumes, smoke, chemicals
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) / Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Chronic alcohol use
What are some symptoms of laryngitis?
Common symptoms of laryngitis include:
- Sore throat
- Dry Cough
- Voice hoarseness or complete loss of voice
- ‘Tickle’ in your throat
What are some treatments of laryngitis?
Laryngitis treatments depends on whether it is acute or chronic. Acute laryngitis does not usually require treatment as the cause is often viral. Laryngitis treatments / interventions include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Alcohol avoidance
- Avoiding smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke
- Simple gargles with warm salty water
- Sucking a lozenge
- Voice rest
- Avoiding shouting
- Avoiding whispering
- Steam inhalations
- avoid nasal decongestants as these may make your throat drier.
If the symptoms of acute laryngitis do not resolve spontaneously after 2 weeks, further investigation and intervention may be required.
What is the difference between acute and chronic laryngitis?
Depending on the cause, laryngitis can be acute or chronic. Acute laryngitis generally lasts for < 2 weeks, with chronic laryngitis lasting > 2 weeks. Viral infections such as common colds are the most common cause of laryngitis.
These acute, short-term symptoms are generally not severe and do not cause lasting damage. There might be temporary voice loss or a hoarse voice, but this will not impact your ability to speak well after recovery.
Some patients with persistent and chronic laryngitis may have medical conditions underlying their symptoms which need to be addressed.