Laryngitis refers to a condition caused by the inflammation of the larynx. This results in the hoarseness of the voice and in severe cases, a complete loss of voice.
You have a big presentation and have been practising for days, but unfortunately on the day of the meeting you notice a sudden change of voice and develop pain while swallowing. This could be a case of laryngitis which is common among people of all age groups.
According to Dr Rani George, a Bangalore-based ENT, “Laryngitis refers to a condition in which there is an inflammation of the larynx.” The larynx refers to the voice box. The term laryngitis comes from two words — Larynx (the voice box) and itis (any inflammation).
Dr EC Vinaya Kumar, consultant ENT, Apollo Hospitals says, “Laryngitis can be of two kinds acute and chronic. Acute laryngitis may occur due to a viral infection or bacterial infection while chronic may occur due to vocal abuse and acid reflux. Acid reflux is one of the most common causes. By acid reflux one implies a condition in which the acid from the stomach reaches the throat. This may occur due to irregular food habits, eating too fast, alcohol, chocolates and even sleeping immediately after eating.”
Vocal abuse can be seen among teachers or anyone who is in a situation in which they scream too much such as those who have returned from a match or a concert.
When it comes to laryngitis hoarseness of voice is the most common symptom. Dr Vinay adds that in case of acute laryngitis patients may also lose their voice completely. The other symptoms could include swollen lymph nodes, fever and dryness in the throat. In case acute laryngitis is not treated properly and on time then it may develop into chronic laryngitis. Pain while speaking and swallowing is also common mentions Dr Rani.
Talking about the treatment for laryngitis, Dr Vinaya Kumar says, “Acute laryngitis usually subsides within four to five days if the patient takes medication, adequate voice rest and is well hydrated. On the other hand, when it comes to chronic laryngitis, the cause of the inflammation will have to be understood and treated. Some patients may require to undertake speech evaluation by a speech therapist and also may require treatment for acid reflux in case that is the cause for the problem. Chronic laryngitis takes more time for recovery than acute laryngitis and will vary from person to person.”
Talking about the importance of being well hydrated Dr Vinaya explains that it helps lubricate the vocal chords as if there is dryness it may cause an inflammation.
Laryngitis is common among people of both genders and may also be seen in children. It is also common among woman during their menstrual cycle as there is a hormonal imbalance.
According to Dr Rani, cases of laryngitis are common during the cold seasons.
Remedies for laryngitis
- Avoid alcohol and smoking
- Cut down the intake of caffeinated products such as coffee, tea and soft drinks
- Drink adequate water
- Rest your voice and speak in a moderate tone, not too softly or too loud
- Stay away from dusty areas
- Warm water gargles and steam inhalation may help