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Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (larynx) caused by infection, excessive use, or irritation.

The larynx’s vocal cords are two folds of mucous membrane covering muscle and cartilage. Your voice chords normally open and close smoothly, creating sounds through movement and vibration.

What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis refers to the inflammation of the larynx, the part of the throat containing the vocal cords. These vocal cords, crucial for speech, can become irritated and swollen, leading to changes in the voice and sometimes causing discomfort or pain.

Laryngitis symptoms might appear quickly and worsen over two to three days. The following are common laryngitis symptoms:

·      trouble communicating

·      hoarseness

·      a low-grade fever

·      throat pain

·      a persistent desire to clean your throat

·      coughing fits

The hoarse voice and difficulty speaking normally worsen with each day of illness. It might linger for up to a week after the other symptoms have subsided.

The larynx can enlarge and cause breathing difficulty in a few cases. This is uncommon in adults, although it can happen in young children with smaller, narrower windpipes.

Because laryngitis is frequently associated with another sickness, such as a cold, flu, throat infection (pharyngitis), or tonsillitis, you may also have the following symptoms:

·      a migraine

·      runny

·      glandular swelling

What causes laryngitis?

Acute Laryngitis

The majority of laryngitis cases are temporary and tend to improve as the underlying cause resolves. Common causes of acute laryngitis include:

1.  Viral Infections: Similar to those responsible for causing a cold.

2.  Bacterial Infections: Although less common than viral causes.

3.  Vocal Strain: Resulting from yelling or excessive use of the voice.

Chronic Laryngitis

When laryngitis persists for more than three weeks, it is classified as chronic. This form of laryngitis is often linked to prolonged exposure to irritants. Chronic laryngitis can lead to:

·      Vocal cord strain

·      Injuries or the development of growths on the vocal cords, such as nodules or polyps.

Chronic laryngitis may be caused by:

1.  Acid Reflux: Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

2.  Inhaled Irritants: Exposure to allergens, chemical fumes, or smoke.

3.  Excessive Alcohol Use

4.  Smoking

5.  Chronic Sinusitis

6.  Habitual Overuse of the Voice

Less Common Causes of Chronic Laryngitis Include:

1.  Bacterial or Fungal Infections

2.  Infections with Certain Parasites

Other Causes of Chronic laryngitis include:

1.  Cancer

2.  Bowing of the Vocal Cords

3.  Paralysis of the vocal cord can result from nerve injury due to surgery, cancer, chest or neck injury, nerve disorders, or other health conditions.

Laryngitis Treatment Options

Effective treatment for laryngitis depends on its underlying cause. Acute laryngitis typically resolves within a few weeks, and self-care measures at home, such as voice rest, often contribute to symptom improvement.

In the case of chronic laryngitis, treatment targets the root cause, whether it be factors like smoking or acid reflux.

Medical Treatments

1.  Corticosteroids: In situations where the need for clear speech is urgent, a doctor might prescribe corticosteroids. These synthetic drugs mimic natural hormones like cortisol, effectively reducing swelling.

2.  Antibiotics: If a bacterial infection is identified, antibiotics may be prescribed. However, bacterial causes for laryngitis are rare. Antibiotics are ineffective against viral laryngitis.

3.  Pain Medications: Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be taken for pain relief. It is essential to adhere to the recommended dosage and frequency.

4.  Voice Therapy: Conducted by a speech-language therapist, voice therapy focuses on educating individuals on proper voice care. The therapy also focuses on minimizing behaviors that strain the vocal cords.