Laryngitis

General Illness Information

Common Name:
Laryngitis

Medical Term: None Specified

Description: An inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and surrounding tissues, causing temporary hoarseness.

Causes: Inflammation of the vocal cords and surrounding area caused by:

  • Viruses (common), bacteria, allergies.
  • Electrolyte-balance disturbances, especially low potassium, that cause muscle weakness (Uncommon).
  • Tumors (rare) or polyps.
  • Excessive use of the voice.

Prevention:

  • Avoid raising, or straining your voice.
  • Treat all respiratory infections appropriately.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Hoarseness or loss of voice.
  • Sore throat; tickling in the back of throat.
  • Sensation of a lump in throat.
  • Slight fever (sometimes).
  • Swallowing difficulty (rare).
  • Tiredness.
  • Usually associated with symptoms of common cold and cough.

Risk Factors

  • Recent respiratory illness.
  • Smoking.
  • Exposure to irritants.
  • Fatigue, stress.

Diagnosis & Treatment

This is a self-limiting illness and extensive tests are not usually necessary. Occasionally laryngoscopy is required to visualize the larynx in order to make a diagnosis, and if a nodule is found, biopsy may be necessary.

General Measures:

  • For most cases, resting the voice for a few days is all that is needed.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier to increase air moisture and ease the constricted feeling in the throat. Clean humidifier daily.
  • Hot, steamy showers also help.
  • Avoid smoking and avoid second-hand cigarette smoke.

Medications:

  • For minor discomfort, you may use non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen, or non-prescription cough syrup.
  • No antibiotic treatment is required for viral laryngitis.
  • If a bacterial cause is suspected, or if there is associated bacterial bronchitis, broad spectrum antibiotics are indicated.

Activity:

No restriction.

Diet:

No special diet required. Increase fluid intake.

Possible Complications:

Chronic hoarseness.

Prognosis

Spontaneous recovery from viral laryngitis in 7 to 14 days. Bacterial infections are usually curable in 7 to 10 days with antibiotic treatment.

Other

‘Nothing Specified’.

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