LaryngitisLaryngitis is a common condition seen during the winters. With the temperatures dipping and a larger number of people falling ill, here is a post that will tell you all you need to know about the condition and how you can prevent it.

Know your voice box

Within your throat is a tiny structure, that helps you make sounds – be it talking, shouting or singing — known as the voice box. It contains vocal chords which are covered with two folds of mucous, cartilage and muscles. When we speak, air passes through these chords, which modulate, to produce sound.

Laryngitis diagramWhat is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is a condition where these vocal chords get inflamed due to some irritant (bacterial, viral or allergen). This inflammation leads to the distortion of one’s voice making it hoarse. In some cases this inflammation can become so severe that it may lead to your complete inability to talk.

There are two types of laryngitis – acute and chronic. Both these types of laryngitis are usually due to some bacterial or viral infection and sometimes due to throat strain or an allergy. The good news here is that laryngitis is usually a minor ailment and most often resolves on its own. (Read: Have a sore throat? Try these tips!)

What are its symptoms?

The symptoms of laryngitis are quite similar to those one experiences in a sore throat. The common signs are – pain around the throat, tenderness in the lymph nodes around the base of the jaw and around the neck, pain while talking and swallowing, red and inflamed back of the throat and hoarseness of one’s voice.

How is it diagnosis

A doctor will usually diagnose laryngitis based on the symptoms you go to him/her with.  Apart from that he/she may check your lymph nodes and throat for swelling and redness. In severe cases or chronic laryngitis, your doctor will prescribe a throat swab (where a tiny sample is taken from the back of your throat), and may examine your voice box for any signs of diseases that might be more serious. (Read: How to get instant relief from cough)

Your treatment options

Since laryngitis is a condition that usually resolves on its own, it is fairly simple to treat. Your doctor will prescribe some antibiotics (in case the infection is due to a bacterial infection), antipyretics (if you suffer from a fever due to the infection), and plenty of rest. You could also have warm water, soups and green tea to help soothe the throat and relieve the pain and irritation associated with it. Natural remedies like drinking ginger tea and having honey can also help a lot. (Read: Why you don’t need medicine every time you have slight fever)

Prevention techniques

Preventing the onset of laryngitis is fairly easy, here are some tips:

  •  If you know you suffer from the condition as a response to an allergen, try to stay away from the offending substance.
  • Avoid smoking and being in the company of people who do. Smoking irritates the throat often causing it to become inflamed.
  • If you are prone to throat infections, make sure you gargle with warm water and a pinch of salt every time you get back from a crowded place. This helps wash away any infectious agents that might have settled in the throat.
  • Avoid shouting and talking loudly. This causes excessive strain on the vocal chords and can lead to laryngitis.

Tip: A hoarse voice is sign of many more conditions including cancer. If you suffer from prolonged hoarseness of your voice or from a throat infection that won’t go away, please visit your doctor immediately. 

Image source: patienteducationcenter.org

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