What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is inflammation and swelling of the larynx or larynx, which contains the vocal cords, better known as the vocal cords.

Most causes of laryngitis, such as usually viral infections or vocal cord strain after prolonged use of the voice, are not serious.

But when laryngitis lasts longer than usual for a viral infection, it could be a sign of a more serious medical problem, such as throat cancer. In such cases, medical assistance is required.

What are the symptoms of laryngitis?

  • Hoarse voice;
  • Feeling of tickling or irritation in the throat;
  • Cough, which may be a symptom of bronchitis or sinusitis;
  • Nasal congestion.

Laryngitis often develops as a complication or a few days after the sore throat. Even after the infection is cured, laryngitis can last for several weeks.

What are the causes?

Laryngitis is a medical condition that is characterized by inflammation of the vocal cords and larynx, which can lead to a change in the voice and is usually accompanied by symptoms such as a hoarse voice, pain in talking and irritation in throat.

The transition between a healthy throat and laryngitis can occur for a variety of reasons, such as infections, trauma, or irritation of the vocal cords.

  1. Viral and bacterial infections: Most cases of laryngitis are caused by viruses or bacteria. These are usually respiratory viruses such as rhinoviruses, adenoviruses and influenza. These microorganisms are spread through droplets from sneezing and coughing and can infect the larynx, causing inflammation.
  2. Vocal strains: Laryngitis can also develop as a result of strains on the vocal cords. This type of laryngitis usually affects people who use their voice intensively, such as singers, teachers, actors or public speakers. Loads can lead to inflammation and swelling of the vocal cords.
  3. Allergies: Some people may develop laryngitis as a reaction to allergens, such as pollen, pollen or animal dander. This type of laryngitis is called allergic laryngitis and can cause the same symptoms as infectious laryngitis.
  4. Carcinoma of the larynx: In rare cases, laryngitis may be associated with carcinoma or cancer of the larynx. This type of laryngitis is a serious condition and requires specific treatment. With carcinoma of the larynx, the vocal cords can be affected by malignant cells, leading to voice disturbance and other symptoms.
  5. Smoking and Smoking: Tobacco use and exposure of the vocal cords to toxic chemicals and nicotine can increase the risk of developing chronic laryngitis.

To determine the exact cause of laryngitis, a doctor’s consultation and additional tests such as a laryngoscopy or throat culture are often necessary.

Treatment depends on the cause and may include antibiotics for bacterial infections, antiviral drugs for viral infections, changing vocal habits for vocal strain, and other approaches as the doctor diagnoses.

Treatment of laryngitis

  • If the symptoms last only a few days or appear immediately after the vocal cords are overworked, the main treatment for this is to refrain from straining the vocal cords when speaking. It is imperative to maintain body hydration by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • If the affected person has symptoms that suggest a viral infection such as low-grade fever, cough, nasal congestion, runny nose, muscle pain and fatigue. Treatment consists of drinking plenty of fluids and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen, with the aim of therapy to relieve symptoms.
  • Inhaling steam such as from a hot bath or shower is thought to make pharyngitis sufferers feel better.
  • For pharyngitis, smoking should be avoided and areas where smoking and alcohol should not be consumed.
  • In most cases, self-treatment at home without a visit of a doctor will cure laryngitis and improve the condition of the affected person significantly. However, if you are unable to relieve your condition on your own, then you should consult your GP.

Conventional treatment

After careful examination your GP will determine the method of treatment. In most cases, he will recommend rest and fluid intake.

But if more serious disease of the larynx is suspected, or if the laryngitis has lasted longer, he may give you a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist.

If the doctor determines that a bacterial infection is present, then he will prescribe a course of antibiotic treatment. If your GP suspects that you may deteriorate rapidly, he may put you under observation in his office or in the emergency department.

In some extreme cases, more often in children than in adults, there is a danger of complete blockage from swelling of the larynx. This is usually a contagious infection.

Then a tube may need to be placed down the laryngitis sufferer’s throat to help them breathe. This procedure is called intubation. In this case, antibiotics and possibly steroids are given intravenously.

How to protect yourself from laryngitis?

Most cases of laryngitis have a bacterial or viral cause, so the best prevention is to wash your hands and especially before touching your face to minimize the possibility of infection bacteria or viruses to enter the mouth.

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