Laryngitis is defined as the inflammation or swelling of the larynx or the voice box. It is associated with pain, hoarseness, loss of voice and sometimes obstruction of the airways. The larynx is a tube-like structure that connects the back of the throat to the windpipe. It contains the vocal cords, which help us to speak. Laryngitis is more common during winters and can affect all ages.
What are the causes?
Laryngitis occurs most commonly due to a viral infection. It may also be due to a bacterial infection or part of a common cold, bronchitis, flu, or pneumonia. Other causes of laryngitis include:
Overuse of voice, such as screaming or in as in case of singers.
Inhalation of irritating substances, smoke or fume
Excess of alcohol consumption and smoking
Prolonged or excessive crying in children
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of laryngitis include hoarseness or loss of voice, pain and sore throat, slight fever, sensation of a lump in the throat, persistent dry cough, weakness and fatigue.
How is it diagnosed?
For diagnosing the infection the doctor will take a medical history and examine the patient. He will do a throat examination with the help of a small mirror. In some cases, blood tests such as complete blood count, X-rays of the neck, laryngoscopy (that is visualisation of the larynx with a telescope) and throat culture may be done to diagnose the nature of infection.
What is the treatment?
Treatment for laryngitis depends on the underlying cause. The doctor may prescribe medicines to treat mucous and infection. Throat lozenges and gargling may help. Pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen may also be used. Crying, shouting, excessive talking or singing should be avoided. Rest and time are the best remedies to cure hoarseness.