Acute Laryngitis: Ever lost your voice? Find out more!!!

acute laryngitis

Hello everyone. Compliments of the season to you and yours!! Here’s to a healthy 2023 for us all! It’s still harmattan season and you know what that means? Did I hear someone say; flu, cough, catarrh, cold, croacky voice, acute laryngitis….?

Thankfully, we will be going on a journey to learn about Acute Laryngitis and remedies to help

So what is Acute Laryngitis?

Acute Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (larynx), which causes one to have a hoarse or lose their voice lasting less than 3 weeks. The larynx is made of muscles and the movements of those muscles, called the vocal cords, are responsible for speech. When the larynx becomes inflamed, one’s voice becomes squeaky and not as loud as usual.

If this persists for more than three weeks, it is termed Chronic Laryngitis and you should speak to your doctor

What causes it?

  1. Infection

Acute Laryngitis is most often due to infection with a bug. 

The most common bug responsible are viruses (viral laryngitis). However, sometimes a bacterial bug may co-exist with a viral infection. Another less common bug is a fungal infection (candidiasis). This may arise from reduced immunity or side effects of inhaled steroids used to treat asthma

  1. Trauma from;
  • Voice misuse – screaming, yelling, loud singing.
  • Excessive voice use in certain professions such as teachers, actors, and singers.
  • Coughing.
  • Habitual throat clearing.
  1. Allergies such as – allergic rhinitis, asthma, etc
  2. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)– Acid can travel from the stomach and irritate the voice box (larynx).
  3. Smoking
  4. Autoimmune disease – such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, etc
  5. Side effects of medication such as lisinopril (a high blood pressure medication) causing cough, bisphosphonates used to treat weak bones, testosterone, etc

What are the common symptoms?

  • Change in voice- Squeaky/Husky/Whispering/Loss of Voice

As laryngitis can co-exist with other flu-like illnesses, inflammation of the tonsils and pharynx (pharyngitis and tonsillitis), therefore one may experience other symptoms such as:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Tiredness and general aches
  • Swollen glands in your neck
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

What is the treatment for Acute Laryngitis?

Usually, a diagnosis can be made clinically. However, one may need further tests if the hoarse voice lasts for more than three weeks.

This can vary from a throat swab to check for bugs, tests to exclude other causes like GERD, or a referral to a specialist where a camera test called laryngoscopy is done to look down the throat amongst others

Once the cause has been found, treatment can be advised and these includes; 

1. Watchful Waiting

 Most cases of acute laryngitis are viral. They are therefore mild and self-limiting i.e gets better within a few days. However, you may have a croaky voice for a week after other symptoms have gone. This is because the inflammation of the vocal cords takes a while to settle.

2. Drink Plenty of water

You may become dehydrated if you don’t drink much and it may make symptoms worse

3. Chew Sugar-free gums

If your voice box (larynx) becomes dry, the inflammation gets worse. Chewing sugar-free gum helps to prevent your larynx from becoming dry.

4. Over-the-counter lozenges, mild pain relief/antipyretics can help with aches, sore throat, and fever

5. Breathe in moisturised (humidified) air

This helps to clear secretions. Humidifiers are available from most large pharmacies. Otherwise, you can place hot water in a large bowl and then inhale the steam. Remember to take care to prevent burns 

6. Avoid activities that irritate your larynx (voice box)

This includes cigarette smoke, caffeine, and alcohol. 

7. Rest your voice

This means avoidance of shouts, singing, or talking for long period of time 

8. Tips for inhaled steroids

Ensure you rinse your mouth after use and consider the use of spacer devices in children to reduce the risk of getting oral candidiasis (fungal infection)

9. See a Speech Therapist 

 Certain professionals such as singers may consult a speech therapist to help in the management

10. Speak to a Doctor

As we have learned now, there are other causes of laryngitis aside from a viral infection. There are also certain red flags such as unexplained lump in the neck, weight loss, etc that need urgent attention. 

So speak to a doctor so the underlying condition where possible can be treated. Get started here