What is laryngitis?

What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is the inflammation of the larynx (more commonly known as the voicebox) due to overuse, infection, or irritation. The most common symptom of laryngitis is hoarseness and sometimes a total loss of voice. Like any affliction the severity of symptoms and length of time until a person is back to health vary from case to case.

You’ve likely heard of singers and other vocal artists not performing due to laryngitis, which makes sense with how often they use their voices in their career. Strain on the vocal cords is certainly a cause for laryngitis.

Laryngitis testing

A scratchy or lost voice isn’t a proper medical diagnosis for laryngitis, but there are two main ways for a doctor to diagnose it.

  • Biopsy of suspicious area showing abnormalities that could be causing the laryngitis, further diagnosis possible after this is evaluated.
  • Laryngoscopy where a doctor uses either a light and a mirror or a fiber optic cable with a small camera at the end to look deeper into the throat and at the larynx to see how the vocal cords are vibrating and/or anything suspicious.

These procedures are relatively simple and not too invasive. Typically these precautions are only performed for recurring or more serious cases.

Laryngitis treatment options

For acute cases of laryngitis, patients can rest their voices, drink a lot of fluids, and humidify the air in your spaces to help self-remedy for results in a couple of days. There are instances where someone experiences chronic laryngitis and further medical attention is needed such as antibiotic and corticosteroid treatments. These must be prescribed by a doctor and not overused. Surgery is sometimes needed for patients with persistent laryngitis cases that are painful and interrupt daily life.

How to manage laryngitis

If symptoms are manageable or you want to work to prevent laryngitis from happening again, there are some home remedies that anyone can do to keep their voice.

  • Use a humidifier or humidify your space in other ways like leaving the shower on or breathing into a bowl of hot water
  • Rest your voice as much as possible, whenever possible
  • Drink plenty of fluids (excluding alcohol and caffeine) – hot decaffeinated tea or lemon water is best
  • Gargle salt water and/or use lozenges to keep the throat moist
  • Avoid any medications that have dry mouth as a side effect, particularly decongestants 
  • No smoking of any kind
  • Avoid whispering as it unnecessarily strains the vocal cords

When laryngitis is caused by a virus, it is difficult to avoid as you don’t really know exactly where it’s coming from. In those instances, wearing a mask to avoid contracting any viruses can help avoid it. If you’re someone who is susceptible or you have an upcoming event that involves the use of your voice, it’s best to consider all of the above methods. If laryngitis is a common problem for you, it’s best to keep track of how often you are diagnosed in order to find any patterns or further causality.

Make an appointment with Breathe Clear Institute for any ear, nose, and throat issues

We are here to help diagnose and treat any throat issues, including laryngitis. We will work with you to find the best remedy and come up with a plan that works for you in order to avoid strained vocal cords in the future.