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Diseases & Conditions

Laryngitis

LaryngitisCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Laryngitis?

When one’s vocal cords undergo inflammation, the condition is known as laryngitis. Laryngitis is characterized by gravelly sounding or hoarse voice. At its worst, the condition causes a total cessation of the ability to make sounds due to intense irritation in the vocal cords.

Causes of laryngitis

Several causes can result in the development of laryngitis. They are:

  • Overuse of the larynx by indulging in excess shouting, talking..
  • Prolonged consumption of alcohol, smoking of cigarettes, excess coughing etc.,
  • GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease might cause inflammation of the laryngitis as well as chronic cough, if digestive juices along with acid from the abdomen rise along the esophagus and into the rear of the throat. If such reflux of acid into one’s vocal cords occurs repeatedly, the same may develop chemical irritation, resulting in laryngeal inflammation that can hinder suitable vibration of the vocal cords as well as the production of sound.
  • If either the muscles or the nerves that manage the functions of the larynx become damaged due to trauma to the neck or surgery with the result that the nerves were cut off accidentally.
  • Incidence of tumors in the chest or neck tends to compress these nerves and make them function poorly.
  • If the thyroid glands are enlarged or inflamed, it can bring about irritation to those nerves which control the muscles of the vocal cord.
  • Another cause of laryngitis is stroke. The condition paralyzes muscles of the vocal cord, resulting in a hoarse, weak voice as well as producing swallowing problems.

Medications for laryngitis

In the treatment of viral laryngitis ibuprofen or acetaminophen are recommended to alleviate pain. For those with serious laryngitis, a brief course of drugs like prednisolone, dexamethasone or prednisone is indicated to reduce the inflammation. To treat croup, a single dose of dexamethasone is given orally in the form of DexPak or Decadron or via intramuscular injection in the form of CPC-Cort-D, Adrenocot, Decaject-10 or Decadron Phosphate can be used.

Prevention of laryngitis

Maintaining good sanitation both at home and workplace, abstaining from smoking and drinking alcohol as far as possible and misuse of one’s voice are good ways to prevent laryngitis.

Risk factors of laryngitis

In certain persons suffering from hoarseness as a result of the paralysis of the vocal cords, aspiration pneumonia can occur. Also traces of food, saliva and fluid might be inhaled down one’s lungs while the process of swallowing is going on. This is because the larynx muscles might refrain from closing as well as protecting one’s upper airway.

In the same manner, recurring events concerning gastroesophageal reflux can cause minute amounts of the acid to slide past the already inflamed larynx and get into the lungs, thereby causing pneumonia.

Symptoms of laryngitis

Laryngitis can be diagnosed by looking for the following symptoms.

  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Dry and sore throat
  • Prolonged coughing
  • Common cold combined with symptoms similar to flu
  • The lymph nodes of the chest, face and throat are swollen
  • Feverishness
  • Coughing of blood
  • Hard of breathing, particularly in children
  • Difficulty in swallowing food
  • Increase in the incidence of saliva in one’s mouth

Treatment for laryngitis

As is the case with any part of the human body that becomes inflamed, the key factor to recovery is plenty of rest. This means that refraining from talking as much as possible will cure laryngitis. However, if talking becomes necessary, do not whisper but continue the conversation in your usual voice without considering how it all sounds. This is because whispering necessitates the stretching of your vocal cords rather tightly resulting in extra work for the muscles surrounding the larynx. Giving up on alcohol or smoking is sure to bring about much needed relief to laryngitis. Treatment of laryngitis can also comprise of surgical procedure as also sessions of speech therapy.

Types of laryngitis

The medical condition is of two kinds: Acute laryngitis and chronic laryngitis. When the voice turns hoarse due to the inflammation and lasts for about a couple of days it is called acute laryngitis. If the condition is prolonged and lasts for more than three days it is termed chronic laryngitis.