Laryngitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Laryngitis is inflammation of the vocal cords or larynx caused by overuse, irritation, or infection. Laryngitis is not a serious disease, with proper treatment generally laryngitis disease can disappear in no more than 3 weeks.

Causes of Laryngitis

Before explaining about the causes of laryngitis, you need to know that laryngitis is a disease that has two types, namely acute and chronic. Certain infections and diseases usually occur in upper respiratory tract infections, causing acute laryngitis. This condition can last for several days until the disease disappears.

As for chronic laryngitis, it can last more than 3 weeks. Causes of chronic laryngitis include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, stomach acid disease, exposure to irritating chemicals, and excessive use of voice.

1. Acute laryngitis

Most cases of laryngitis are temporary and improve after the underlying cause is treated. Causes of acute laryngitis include:

  • Viral infections are similar to the cause of colds.
  • Vocal tension, caused by screaming or using excessive sounds.
  • Bacterial infection (bullet).

2. Chronic laryngitis

Laryngitis lasting more than three weeks is known as chronic laryngitis. This type of strep throat is generally caused by exposure to irritants from time to time. Chronic laryngitis can cause stretching and injury to the vocal cords or growth of the vocal cords (polyps or nodules). This injury can be caused by:

  • Irritation caused by chemical fumes, allergens or motor vehicle fumes.
  • Stomach acid disease.
  • Chronic sinusitis.
  • Excessive use of alcohol.
  • Using voice too often.
  • Have a smoking habit.

Less common causes of chronic laryngitis are:

  • Bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Certain parasitic infections.

Other causes of chronic hoarseness include:

  • Cancer.
  • Paralysis of the vocal cords, can be caused by injury, stroke, lung tumor or other health conditions.
  • Slouching posture can affect the vocal cords.

Symptoms of Laryngitis

In most cases, symptoms of laryngitis last less than a few weeks and are caused by a virus. In rare cases, the symptoms of laryngitis are caused by something more serious or long-lasting. Signs and symptoms of strep throat can include:

  • Hoarseness.
  • Weak voice or loss of voice.
  • Tickling sensation in the throat.
  • The throat hurts and feels dry.
  • Having a dry cough.

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

In most cases, laryngitis is a disease that can be cured by self-care such as resting the sound and drinking lots of fluids. Keep in mind, if during an episode of acute laryngitis you use a loud voice, it can damage the vocal cords.

Consult a doctor immediately if symptoms of laryngitis last more than two weeks. Seek immediate medical assistance if you:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Fever.
  • Increased pain.
  • Difficulty swallowing.

Another important thing to note is that the symptoms of laryngitis may indicate croup, a respiratory infection in children that makes the airway blocked. Although croup can usually be treated at home, severe symptoms require medical treatment because of the swelling of the larynx, trachea, and bronchi (tracheal branches that lead to the lungs).

Diagnosis of Laryngitis

Although the sign of laryngitis is hoarseness, voice changes can vary depending on the level of infection or irritation. If you have a chronic, hoarse voice, you may be advised to see an ear, nose and throat specialist.

The following are some of the techniques commonly used to diagnose laryngitis:

1. Laryngoscopy

Laryngoscopy is a procedure performed to visually see the condition of the vocal cords. This procedure is done by inserting a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) with a small camera and light through the nose or mouth to the throat.

2. Biopsy

The diagnosis of other laryngitis can be done by biopsy method. A biopsy is a procedure for removing a small portion of tissue from the body for examination using a microscope. This method is needed to find out the right type of treatment or therapy.

Laryngitis Treatment

If you have acute laryngitis, this condition can improve on its own within a week or so. Meanwhile, if you experience chronic laryngitis, medical treatment is needed to treat the underlying cause.

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies

Several methods of self-care and home care can relieve the symptoms of laryngitis and reduce the tension of the vocal cords, including:

  • Air humidifier

Use an air humidifier to keep the air throughout the house or office humid. Another method that can be used is to inhale steam from a hot water bowl or take a hot shower.

  • Rest the sound

Avoid talking or singing too loudly or for too long. If you need to talk in front of a crowd, try using a loudspeaker.

  • Take lots of fluids

Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and avoid alcohol and caffeine. You can also gargle with salt water or chew gum.

Another natural way to do is to suck on throat lozenges that contain herbs such as eucalyptus and mint. This natural ingredient is known to calm sore throats.

Medical treatment

Some medicines that can be used include:

1. Antibiotics

In almost all cases of laryngitis, the drug used for laryngitis is antibiotics. But antibiotics will not be useful if the disease is caused by a virus. However, if you have a bacterial infection, your doctor can recommend antibiotics.

2. Corticosteroids

Other laryngitis medications that are sometimes used are corticosteroids. This medicine can help reduce vocal cord inflammation. However, this treatment is only used when there is an urgent need to treat strep throat.

Meanwhile, if laryngitis causes pain, you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin). Always follow the instructions from the doctor about how much to consume the right medicine.

Prevention of Laryngitis

Laryngitis is often caused by common viral infections such as colds or flu, so often you don’t always succeed in preventing it. However, you can reduce your risk of developing the disease by:

  • Get a flu vaccine.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene, such as washing hands before and after eating and after using the toilet.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have respiratory infections.
  • Avoid irritants such as burning smoke or dust, especially if you suffer from colds or respiratory infections.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Use a pillow during sleep to avoid stomach acid while sleeping.
  • Don’t shout or sing loudly for long periods of time.


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