What is laryngitis?
Laryngitis is inflammation of the larynx. Get rid of laryngitis with the help of steroids, antibiotics, a humidifier and home care, depending on the underlying cause.
The area that houses your vocal cords is known as your larynx. It is located above the airway to your lungs. This is where laryngitis occurs. Laryngitis is the swelling and inflammation of your larynx.
There are two types of laryngitis:
- Acute laryngitis: This is a short-term condition that resolves itself once the cause of inflammation is addressed.
- Chronic laryngitis: If your inflammation lasts more than a few days, you may have chronic laryngitis.
If you are prone to developing laryngitis frequently, it may be considered a chronic condition.
Causes of laryngitis
Laryngitis is not contagious, so you cannot pass it from person to person. Instead, it can occur as a stand-alone condition or as the side effect of an underlying medical condition. Laryngitis is caused by:
- Seasonal allergies
- Allergic reaction
- Bacterial infection
- Injury to the larynx
- Irritants and chemicals that may cause damage to the airway
- Viral infections
- Respiratory blockage, like croup
- Smoking or vaping
Who can get laryngitis?
Anyone can get laryngitis, and it is common. You are more likely to experience the symptoms of laryngitis if you have another medical condition affecting your sinuses, throat, lungs, or airways.
Similarly, if you smoke or work with chemicals regularly, you may be prone to developing laryngitis.
How do you know if you have laryngitis?
If you’re sick, you may think the symptoms of laryngitis are from your illness. While it is true that laryngitis is caused by other medical conditions, it is a separate diagnosis.
There is one sure way to tell the difference between symptoms of laryngitis and symptoms of another condition. The hoarseness of your voice will be obvious when you speak. Your voice may be deeper or quieter than normal and break uncontrollably.
Diagnosis for laryngitis
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose laryngitis. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, including their onset and duration. The primary need for an examination is to determine the cause of your laryngitis.
If you have an upper respiratory or bacterial infection, treatment for this will also help clear up your laryngitis.
A physical exam by your doctor will include their feeling the outside of your throat and then looking inside for swelling, redness, and lumps. Your doctor may suspect a bacterial infection if the exact cause of your laryngitis is unknown. If you can cough up phlegm from your chest, it will be tested to narrow down the cause of your symptoms.
By determining the reason for and severity of your condition, your doctor will be able to provide you with a proper treatment plan.
Treatments for laryngitis
A bacterial infection requires treatment with an antibiotic. Keep in mind that if your condition is viral, antibiotics are not recommended since they can’t kill viruses.
If you have an acute case of laryngitis, your doctor might prescribe oral steroids to speed up the healing process and prevent further damage.
The best thing you can do is rest your vocal cords to provide time for healing. Avoid irritants like smoking, vaping, or working around chemicals if they are the cause for your laryngitis.
If your throat feels dry or you have a dry cough, a humidifier can alleviate discomfort and promote healing. This may also help to address any other medical conditions impacting your laryngitis.
In most cases, laryngitis will resolve itself within seven to ten days. If your condition persists, your doctor will refer you to a specialist who can more closely examine your vocal cords for damage.
A specialist may refer you for therapy to strengthen your vocal cords and help you learn how to prevent straining them in the future.
Risks and side effects of laryngitis treatments
All medications and treatments pose the risk of negative side effects, so talk to your doctor about your best options. Laryngitis that lasts longer than ten days without improvement can cause permanent damage or be a sign of a more serious medical condition.
Always talk to your doctor about concerns and seek treatment so you don’t get worse. You can prevent future cases of laryngitis by avoiding irritants. Wash your hands routinely and avoid spending time with people who are sick. If you smoke, seek resources for quitting.