Laryngitis involves inflammation of the larynx or voice box. The usual cause of a brief case of laryngitis is a viral infection involving the upper airways such as the common cold.
Laryngitis might also occur along with bronchitis or any inflammation or infection of the upper airways. Prolonged use of the voice, exposure to irritants and an allergic reaction can cause acute or persistent laryngitis. The bacterial infections affecting the larynx are considered uncommon.
Possible causes of laryngitis
The usual cause of brief or short-lived laryngitis is a viral infection affecting the upper airways such as common cold. It is important to note that laryngitis can also occur with bronchitis or any other form of inflammation or infection affecting the upper airways.
As for the chronic cases where the symptoms last longer than 3 weeks, it might be due to gastroesophageal reflux and less likely by lingering bronchitis. Individuals who have bulimia who frequently vomit might end up with laryngitis.
What are the indications?
The symptoms include an unnatural change in the voice such as diminished volume or hoarseness or even loss of voice that occurs within hours up to a day or so. The throat might even tickle or feel raw and the individual might have the constant urge to clear the throat.
Remember that the symptoms vary in severity in terms of inflammation. Malaise, fever, sore throat and difficulty swallowing might also occur in severe cases.
How is it diagnosed
A diagnosis is based on the characteristic symptoms and changes in the voice of the individual.
As for chronic cases, the doctor will check the throat using a mirror or a thin, flexible viewing tube which reveals reddening and oftentimes minimal swelling of the lining of the larynx.
Since cancer of the larynx can also cause hoarseness, an individual with persistent symptoms that lasts more than a week requires assessment for laryngeal cancer.
Management of laryngitis
The management for laryngitis usually depends on the symptoms. It is vital that the individual will rest his/her voice, using cough suppressants, inhalation of steam and drinking more fluids to alleviate the symptoms and promote the healing process.
It is also vital to stop smoking and manage bronchitis if present to alleviate laryngitis. In most cases, an antibiotic is provided only for infections triggered by bacteria. Depending on the cause, specific treatments to manage bulimia, gastroesophageal reflux or drug-induced laryngitis might be beneficial.