What is Laryngitis?
Laryngitis is characterised by inflammation and swelling of the larynx (voice box) and, in most cases, is caused by common viruses, infections or overuse of the voice. Though not considered a serious health concern, in some cases, it may indicate laryngeal cancer.
What are its causes and concerns?
Laryngitis is typically caused by a virus, overuse of the voice or a bacterial throat infection. Bacterial and viral cases of Laryngitis are very contagious. In rare cases, it may also be the result of more severe conditions like underlying fungal infections, tuberculosis or syphilis. Laryngitis may even occur due to cancerous tumours, which is why one must see head, neck and throat specialists to rule out this possibility.
What are its symptoms?
Common Laryngitis may occur when you have a sore throat or a few days after that. It can persist even after the infection has cleared up. Some symptoms of common Laryngitis are:
- Feeling a “tickle in your throat”
- Having a constant urge to clear your throat
- Low-grade fever
In some cases, Laryngitis may be an indication of laryngeal cancer. If you see the following symptoms in yourself or your child, you must visit a head, neck and throat specialist to consult them:
- Coughing up blood
- Coughing up green or yellow phlegm (possibly indicating bacterial Sinusitis or Bronchitis)
- A sore throat accompanied by a fever
- History of throat problems and/or breathing problems
- Difficulty drinking liquids
- Discomfort or pain of the throat
- Associated neck swelling
- Unexplained weight loss
- Symptoms continuing for two to three weeks despite rest to the voice
Some cases are so serious that they can be life-threatening. A visit to the emergency department is a must in these cases. Some such symptoms are:
- Sensation that the throat is closing up
- Difficulty breathing
- Unable to swallow properly
- Able to breathe only when sitting in an upright position
- Whistling sound in the throat when breathing
Depending on the case, children and adults may or may not need similar treatment for their condition. Suppose your child is only experiencing hoarseness, either with or without accompanying symptoms like a mild fever (under 100.5 F), runny nose, nasal congestion or cough and muscle aches. In that case, they can have the same treatment as an adult. However, suppose the child has a sore throat, refuses to eat/drink, has a high fever and shows signs of dehydration (for example, has fewer wet diapers than usual). In that case, the issue is more serious. In such cases, you should take the child to the emergency department.
What are the solutions and treatment options?
In most cases, the doctor performs a physical examination to evaluate the patient’s condition, concentrating on the throat, nose, ears and neck. In case of severe symptoms, the doctor may recommend a chest and neck x-ray, especially for children. He or she may perform a thorough examination of the throat by guiding a small, lighted scope through the nose to the throat after numbing the nose with a local anaesthetic. Albeit a little time-consuming, this procedure provides essential information about the laryngeal nerve’s condition (the nerve that controls the vocal cords’ movements).
Sometimes, especially in children, a head, neck and throat specialist might draw blood for a complete blood count (CBC) specimen.
In many cases, it is possible to treat or improve Laryngitis at home by following some simple practices, like:
- If symptoms have only lasted for a few days or have occurred due to overuse of voice – resting the voice and drinking lots of fluids
- If symptoms of viral infection (like low fever, cough, congested or runny nose) are present – drinking fluids and taking non-prescription medication like Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or Advil (Ibuprofen)
- Inhaling hot steam or cool mist (from a humidifier) to ease symptoms
- If, despite these home remedies, the symptoms do not go away, consult a specialist. If there is a chance or an accompanying bacterial infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics.
Call us today for an appointment if you observe persistent symptoms of Laryngitis in yourself or your child. Our qualified healthcare professionals will guide you on a treatment plan.
Additional Reading: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/laryngitis/article_em.htm
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