General Illness Information
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.
- 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).
- Usually associated with symptoms of common cold and cough.
- Recent respiratory illness.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
No special diet required. Increase fluid intake.
Spontaneous recovery from viral laryngitis in 7 to 14 days. Bacterial infections are usually curable in 7 to 10 days with antibiotic treatment.