Laryngitis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation and swelling of the larynx or voice box. While in most cases laryngitis passes quickly without any treatment and leaves no consequences, in other, although rare cases, it may become chronic or indicate a more serious problem, such as cancer.
Causes of laryngitis
Causes of laryngitis can be infectious or non-infectious. Infectious laryngitis usually results from seasonal viral infections, like common cold and flu. The infection can also be bacterial. Tuberculosis, syphilis and fungal infections can also cause laryngitis, although not very often.
Non-infectious causes of laryngitis generally include various types of irritants, such as cigarette smoke, fumes, cold and dry weather, pollution and allergens. Overuse of voice, for example after shouting, screaming or simply talking too much for a long time, also potentially leads to laryngitis.
Treatment for laryngitis
In most cases laryngitis passes on its own, without any particular treatment. This is especially the case with laryngitis caused by viral infections or overuse of the voice. The symptoms, such as hoarse voice, mild pain and possibly a fever, usually go away after a couple of days, ten at most. Bacterial laryngitis must be treated with antibiotics.
Throat lozenges, saline solution, herbal tea, vitamin supplements, warm soup and a scarf wrapped around the neck may alleviate the symptoms and make laryngitis go away sooner.
Inhaling steam is also a good remedy for laryngitis. It can be done in the bathroom, using hot water from the faucet, or by boiling some water, placing it in a large bowl and inhaling the vapors for several minutes, with the head covered with a towel. Indoor air humidifiers and vaporizers are also highly recommended, especially considering that dry air is one of the major irritants for the throat and the larynx.
It goes without saying that smoking and exposure to irritants must be avoided, at least until the larynx gets better.
If laryngitis persists and lasts for more than ten days, it is recommended to see a doctor. Persistent inflammation may indicate a bacterial infection, especially if accompanied by fever, sore throat, pain and other complaints. However, chronic laryngitis may also indicate the presence of tumors, which may be malignant, which is why it is better to see a doctor, preferably a specialist on otolaryngology.
In extreme cases, the inflammation and swelling can be so severe that they obstruct the normal air flow and cause severe difficulty or even inability breathe, which represents a medical emergency.