Laryngitis is a medical term that refers to the inflammation of a human’s voice box; larynx resulting from overuse, infection or irritation. It is characterized by hoarse voice and sometimes causes temporary complete loss of the voice as a result of irritation to the vocal folds.
Laryngitis causes are classified as either acute or chronic. Acute laryngitis is generally caused by cold or flu as a result of viral infection, inflammation due to overuse of vocal cords especially in shouting, singing or speaking, constant coughing, throat clearing and throat injury. Moreover, it is chronically caused by any allergic reaction from dust, toxins, chemicals or fumes, extreme consumption of alcohol, smoking or as a result of disease affecting esophagus.
Signs and symptoms
The common symptoms of laryngitis include weak voice and often one can lose the voice completely, hoarseness of voice where it may sound rough, be deeper than ordinary, or break frequently. Others include dry and sore throat, coughing and trouble when swallowing.
The risk factor for laryngitis are overusing ones voice by either shouting, too much singing loudly or speaking at the top of one’s voice, coming into contact with irritating substances like cigarette smoke, chemicals at workplace, stomach acid and excessive consumption of alcohol. Others include respiratory infections for instance, sinusitis, cold and bronchitis.
When to seek medical attention
At times, during the infection, one is likely to contract a secondary bacterial infection which becomes one of the major complications of laryngitis. However in little children, swellings in the larynx arising from irritation make both inhalation and exhalation hard and noisy. In such a case, urgent medical attention is recommended.
Laryngitis cases more often than not get better within a period of one week or thereabout. Meanwhile, to aid in relieving a patient’s symptoms, the following measures should be practiced: taking enough fluids, stopping both smoking and taking of alcohol until the condition improves, resting one’s voice and speaking normally yet avoiding whispering as this would strain the voice. Laryngitis being a viral infection does not require an antibiotic unless in case of a bacterial infection, where the general practitioner would prescribe the right antibiotic to use. In addition, he would advise on appropriate treatment in cases of related illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis.
Prevention method is unclear because it usually occurs during cold or other related infections. Nonetheless, constant practice of beneficial lifestyle changes can help prevent the infection. These are: maintaining high levels of personal hygiene, avoiding clearing of voice as this is likely to cause an unusual vibration of one’s vocal cords; distancing from any kind of irritants like smokes, and limiting alcohol intake including caffeine.
In conclusion, laryngitis infection affects both young and old. It can either be acute or chronic and lasts for a week then clears on its own. Antibiotics apply only in bacterial infection on prescription by a doctor. It remains necessary to practice good lifestyle changes in case one contracts laryngitis.
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