What is laryngitis?
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx, also called voice box. It can occur due to infections, irritation or overuse. Inside the larynx, there are vocal chords, which are two folds of mucous membrane covering the muscles and the cartilage. They open and close, forming sound through vibration and movement. In laryngitis, the vocal chords become inflamed and the sound they produce becomes distorted due to swelling. This makes the voice sound hoarse and in some cases a person even seems mute, as their voice becomes almost undetectable.
Laryngitis can be short or acute and long lasting or chronic. In most cases, however, it is only a temporary problem. Persistently hoarse voice can be a sign of a more serious problem and should be examined.
The symptoms of laryngitis, aside from the hoarse voice, may include dry or scratchy throat, sore throat and dry cough. In most cases laryngitis is caused by a viral infection and the symptoms are usually gone after a week or ten days. As for the treatment, it is generally focused on alleviating the symptoms rather than curing the underlying cause, exactly because the virus is probably viral.
Prevention of laryngitis
One way to prevent laryngitis is to prevent viral infections causing it. This is not always possible, but simple hygienic routine, especially frequent had washing, as well as avoiding contact with infected persons, is one of the best measures of prevention. Viral infections can be prevented by eating healthy foods rich in all the essential nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, as well as in amino acids and antioxidants. During winter, when many people do not eat as healthy as they should, it is advised to take multivitamin supplements.
Laryngitis is often caused by overuse of the voice, by dryness and irritation. In order to prevent it, it is advised to cut down on cigarettes or to quit smoking altogether. Second-hand smoke is also harmful for the larynx.
Cold and dry weather should also be avoided, if possible. Since laryngitis often results from dryness, it is recommended to drink plenty of fluids, especially plain water, herbal teas and juices. Fluids keep the mucous membrane in the throat and larynx thin, moist and easy to clear.
Clearing the throat, especially if it is somewhat of an unconscious habit, is also to be avoided as it causes abnormal vibration and irritation of the vocal chords and increases the swelling. Talking slowly and quietly instead of shouting is yet another way to prevent larynx inflammation.