Laryngitis

Laryngitis check up

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

The larynx is a very essential organ of the body which contains all the vocal cords and is responsible for generation and modulation of sound (voice). It also prevents food from entering the windpipe (trachea) while swallowing. Any infection of the larynx may lead to inflammation and dysfunctions that is medically termed as “Laryngitis”. It is a very common condition in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate countries which have favorable climatic conditions for the growth and spread of different bacterial and viral pathogens. Serious cases of laryngitis may even progress to laryngeal cancer when left undiagnosed in the early stages. According to epidemiological studies by the American Cancer Society, about 13,430 new cases of laryngeal cancer were reported in the year 2016.

 

What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis treatmentIn medical terms, laryngitis is defined as the inflammation of the larynx, more correctly the vocal cords and the adjoining tissues due to rough treatment or overuse, irritation or infections of the respiratory tract. Laryngitis or associated complications may lead to impaired functionalities of the larynx such as problems in swallowing, straining, coughing, maintenance of pulmonary pressure, immunological balance, and few hormonal functions. The typical complications observed are difficulty in speaking (dysphonia), discomfort in the anterior portion of the neck, coughing, throat clearing, feeling of lump formation in the throat (globus pharyngeus) and excessive air wasting (due to the partially closed glottis).

 

What causes laryngitis?

Laryngitis is commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections. But there are numerous other etiological factors as well. These are described below-

  • Age: Natural degeneration of vocal cords occur with age which may cause bending of vocal cords or damage of adjoining tissues and nerves responsible for the functioning of vocal cords and eventually lead to laryngitis.
  • Infections: Viral infections caused by the common cold and flu virus or influenza virus can cause laryngitis. Bacterial infections caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus species may also contribute to laryngitis.
  • Phonotrauma: Laryngitis may be caused due to improper, rough or excessive use of the vocal cords, causing an excessive collision between vocal cords. This may happen during screaming, yelling, singing continuously or due to some other occupational requirements.
  • Electrolyte imbalance: Extremely low concentration of potassium in the body can lead to electrolyte imbalance causing muscle weakness. These conditions may trigger laryngitis.
  • Tumors: Presence of benign or malignant tumors in the throat can lead to partial obstruction, which may slowly progress to laryngitis.
  • Irritants: Inhalation of particulates and irritants (carbon particles, smoke, dust, fumes) on a regular basis may occur among inhabitants of industrial areas or factory workers and may lead to laryngitis.
  • Substance abuse: Excess alcoholism or tobacco smoking can cause irritation in the throat muscles and membrane causing laryngitis.
  • Acid reflux: Regurgitation of gastric acids (common in the morning) which are pushed up to the back of the throat (also in case of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) can cause throat irritation and affect the larynx, causing laryngitis.
  • Paralysis: Paralysis of vocal cords may occur due to mechanical injury, stroke, lung tumor (polyps or nodules) which may lead to laryngitis.
  • Diseases: Existing illnesses of the respiratory tract such as bronchitis, pneumonia or asthma can increase risks of laryngitis.
  • Weather: Continuous and prolonged exposure to cold weather conditions can cause laryngitis.

 

Symptoms of laryngitis

Laryngitis painLaryngitis is often neglected in the initial stages on assumptions of a minor sore throat or strep throat conditions. This may lead to serious complications in future. Hence the following symptoms must be recognized in the early stages

  • Throat pain and sore throat
  • Inflammation and tenderness of throat
  • Persistent dry (non-productive)  cough
  • Extreme dryness of throat
  • Tickling, itching, and irritation inside the throat
  • Unusual hoarseness
  • Swelling of vocal cords
  • Bouts of a cough with bleeding
  • Cracked and weakened voice
  • Production of wheezing sound while talking, coughing or even breathing (extra air loss due to an incomplete closing of glottis)
  • Breathlessness due to partial obstruction of the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing food (dysphagia)
  • Pain in throat muscles (myalgia)
  • Difficulty speaking (dysphonia)
  • Constant throat clearing due to feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Loss of voice in extreme cases
  • Mild fever
  • Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and general body weakness
  • Disturbed sleep due to a constant cough at night
  • Difficulty in jaw and tongue movements
  • Occasional discomfort and pain in the chest due to constant coughing

 

 Types of laryngitis

According to the severity of the disease, laryngitis may be classified into two categories-

  • Acute Laryngitis: Acute laryngitis usually follows after certain viral and bacterial infections or common cold and cough. It may also be caused by vocal strain or temporary exposure to irritants such as industrial pollutants or seasonal allergens. Acute laryngitis normally resolves within 2-3 weeks.
  • Chronic Laryngitis: Chronic laryngitis usually results due to age (due to degeneration or curving of vocal cords), existing malignancies such as laryngeal cancer, diseases related to acid reflux (GERD), occupational exposure to irritants for a prolonged period, smoking and alcohol abuse on a regular basis. The symptoms are more severe in this case and tend to persist (more than 3 weeks) even after the causative agents are completely eliminated.

Another classification of laryngitis is made based on the causative agents-

  • Viral laryngitis: It is observed in immunosuppressed people and is usually mediated by the Rhinovirus, Adenovirus or Influenza virus.
  • Bacterial laryngitis: It normally follows after viral laryngitis and is caused by the Streptococcus, Staphylococcus or Moraxella species. The symptoms are usually severe and may include the production of serious casts, purulent discharge, and erythema.
  • Fungal laryngitis: It is observed in 10% of laryngitis cases and is mediated by the parasitic fungus “Candida” which results in Laryngeal Candidiasis.

 

Diagnosis

The following diagnostic tests are usually recommended-

  • Panendoscopy (for examination of larynx, pharynx, trachea, and esophagus)
  • Laryngoscopy (for examining the larynx)
  • Rapid Antigen Detection Test (to look for active viral or bacterial infections)

 

Treatment and prevention

Laryngitis check upTreatment 

  • Antibiotics – Since laryngitis is mostly a viral infection, antibiotics will not be prescribed. In case, laryngitis is caused by a bacterial infection, doctors will prescribe antibiotics. It is important to know the exact cause of the infection.
  • Corticosteroids – The minimum healing time for laryngitis is 3 weeks. Corticosteroids are only provided when there is an immediate need to treat the condition. These medications help in reducing the inflammation in the throat.

Prevention 

  • Do not smoke.
  • Do not consume alcohol.
  • Make sure to include high fiber, proteins, and beans in your diet.
  • Avoid irritants such as dust and pollution.
  • Do not consume spicy food.

Facts

  • Women are more commonly affected by laryngitis than men.
  • Laryngitis is most common among children, as they tend to strain their vocal cords frequently.
  • Medical conditions such as bronchitis and vocal cord polyps (cysts) can lead to laryngitis.

Facts

  • A rare viral infection of diphtheria is one of the causes of laryngitis.
  • Overusing the vocal cords can increase the chances of developing laryngitis.

Facts

  • Vocal cords can get paralyzed due to injuries.
  • Losing your voice is due to the consistent inflammation of the vocal cords.
  • Gastroesophageal refluxes are another cause of laryngitis.

Related Conditions

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Consume herbal remedies, such as tea. It helps in reducing the inflammation in the larynx.
  • Stay hydrated, as laryngitis can make your throat dry and cause irritation.
  • Gargle at least 2-3 times a day, with lukewarm water, this helps in soothing the throat and reducing inflammation.
Don'ts
  • Go near dust or any other irritants, as it tends to aggravate the symptoms of laryngitis.
  • Indulge in using tobacco or tobacco-based products; it can increase the chances of developing laryngitis.
  • Consume alcohol, as it can nullify the effects of the medication and increase the symptoms of laryngitis.

 

 

 

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Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…