Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx which causes a hoarse voice or complete loss of voice because of irritation to the vocal chords. Dysphonia is the medical term for a vocal disorder, and laryngitis is just one cause for dysphonia. Laryngitis is called acute if it lasts for three days or less or chronic when it lasts over three weeks. This chronic form generally occurs in middle age, and strikes more men than women. Laryngitis is mainly due to excessive coughing due to other diseases like bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and similar lung ailments. It is also caused by bacterial fungal or viral infections that trigger the disease, but there are several cures for laryngitis. Sometimes the cause is only an allergy while in other causes it could include a reaction to irritants or chemicals that affect the voice box. In most cases, laryngitis is caused by the overuse of vocal cords by excessive speaking or singing.
Remedies for Laryngitis
Acute laryngitis in most cases will not require medical treatment and any kind of treatment is aimed primarily at providing relief and avoiding or eliminating possible causes of irritation. For this reason home remedies can come in quite handy. At the same time however it should be pointed out that while many natural treatments may help to provide relief, most of these remedies have not been subjected to vigorous testing and their effectiveness could vary greatly. If you find that your condition isnt responding to treatment consult with your doctor for medical care.
- The first step towards a lasting laryngitis cure is to avoid harmful habits like smoking and drinking. Alcohol consumption can be particularly harmful for laryngitis patients as it may set off the dissolution of the mucus membrane enclosing the lungs, thereby opening up a possibility for the fluid and food particles to invade the lungs and cause pneumonia and other respiratory ailments.
- A very simple home treatment for laryngitis is to be sure to breathe through the nose only. This stipulation will ensure the larynx is not exposed to cold air, which is what would happen when breathing through the mouth. As we can see household remedies for laryngitis are simple, effective, and self- imposed.
- Most laryngitis home remedies can be used to either prevent or treat this condition. Among the commonest natural laryngitis remedies is lemon tea consumed while it is still warm. It is best to brew your own lemon tea rather than resort to a packaged product that contains chemical additives that may irritate your throat even more. Tannic acid in tea is responsible for soothing a sore throat, while lemon removes excess mucus and phlegm from the vocal passages.
- The best home remedy for laryngitis is to ensure adequate rest for your vocal cords. Avoid speaking as far as possible and under no circumstances should you shout loudly.
- A person suffering from laryngitis should consume eight to twelve glasses of water at room temperature to hydrate the larynx and soothe the irritation. Hot or cold water may aggravate the situation and lead to adverse results.
- You can also use the steam inhalation method to cleanse your respiratory tract of any excess mucus build-up as well as soothe your throat. Add fresh mint leaves, a few drops of eucalyptus oil, or freshly ground cloves to the water to increase the effectiveness of this remedy.
- Gargling with salt water may be effective in treating throat infections but it is not advisable in the case of laryngitis as the salt can irritate your throat.
- The licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which is an anti-inflammatory agent of relief. If you are a habitual smoker, sucking a licorice stick will treat the laryngitis, and also put off the craving for a smoke.
- Ginger root and marshmallow herb are excellent laryngitis home remedies and you can brew a cup of herbal tea twice a day to help soothe your throat.
- Couch grass and slippery elm have a high mucilage content and so it would be wise to include them in your list of home remedies for laryngitis. Mucilage helps to coat the tissues of the throat and this protective layer helps to prevent dry throat and other such problems that are common in laryngitis cases.
- Mix a small amount of turmeric in a glass of water and keep it aside for 10 minutes to allow the powder to settle. Gently pour out about ¾ th of the water into another glass making sure that you do not disturb the turmeric that has settled at the bottom of the glass. It is important to ensure that the water you use to gargle is free of the turmeric powder otherwise the powder may irritate your throat. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which has anti- inflammatory properties.
Symptoms of Laryngitis
Laryngitis symptoms can seem to be rather severe because of the extent of discomfort they can cause, but in most cases the symptoms will last for no more than a few weeks. In other cases, where the cause is more serious the symptoms can persist for a lot longer. The main symptoms of laryngitis include:
- Hoarseness, dry throat with soreness, coughing
- A localized sensation of swelling or discomfort, which can make swallowing difficult or even painful
In severe cases, there may be swelling of lymph glands in the chest, throat, or face and the individual may notice blood specks in their sputum when they cough. Children may experience difficulty in breathing and appear to suffer from appetite loss, which is actually on account of the discomfort whilst swallowing food.
Causes of Laryngitis
Acute laryngitis is the most prevalent type of laryngitis. Common causes of acute laryngitis include:
- Viral infections of the upper respiratory organs.
- Overuse or abuse of the vocal cords can strain and damage them causing laryngitis it doesnt matter whether you were singing at the karaoke bar or cheering at the Super Bowl.
- When stomach acid leaks into the throat, as in the case of acid reflux, it can irritate the vocal folds. If this happens often, it can lead to laryngitis.
Chronic laryngitis on the other hand lasts for more than just a few weeks and the causes can often be traced much further back in the timeline. This is because in most cases it results from prolonged exposure to an irritant.
- Smoking is the main cause of chronic laryngitis because continued exposure to tobacco smoke is responsible for the inflammation of the larynx.
- Alcohol too can cause intensive laryngitis because ethanol, the active ingredient in alcohol, contains assorted chemical impurities that irritate the larynx.
- Untreated health conditions like GERD or gastroesophageal reflux can cause inflammation and severe irritation to the larynx.
- Exposure to dust, fumes, toxins and other chemicals can also contribute to the development of laryngitis and exacerbate existing problems.
Diet for Laryngitis
A laryngitis diet would first and foremost consist of plenty of fluids. In addition to your diet plan, you will also need to avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. Drink warm water throughout the day to prevent your throat from becoming dry. Vegetables and fruits provide Vitamin C, and are helpful when the laryngitis is the result of an infection. Protein rich foods like lean beef, fish, pork and chicken enable the body to counter infections because of their protein and zinc content. Your diet should be well balanced and should contain a wide variety of nuts and seeds. It should also contain low-fat milk products, whole grains, and healthy oils. Whatever the cause of the laryngitis, fluid intake must be maintained and even increased, in order to keep the mucus membranes moist.
Foods and beverages that are best avoided include spicy, oily and acidic foods such as onion, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and fried fish. Abstain from heavy meals, and eating just before bedtime. Keep in mind, alcohol and beverages containing caffeine dehydrate you and should be avoided while your larynx is healing.
Suggestions for Laryngitis
Home remedies and natural care may not be the answer to all your health problems, but when used prudently along with medical care they can prove invaluable. In addition to your treatment make it a point to also make certain changes to your lifestyle. Speak in a normal voice if you need to speak at all. Whispering is more of a strain on your vocal cords than you may imagine. If the air is very dry use a humidifier to moisten the air because dry air irritates the throat. If you do not have a humidifier, a simple method would be to hang two to three wet towels around the room. As the water from the towels evaporates, the humidity in your room will automatically increase. Laryngitis can restrict you social life and disrupt your regular schedule but with timely treatment you should be fine within a few days.
- Taking care of your voice. National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/takingcare.aspx. Accessed March 8, 2012.
Hanson DG, Jiang JJ. Diagnosis and management of chronic laryngitis associated with reflux. Am J Med. 2000 Mar 6; 108 Suppl 4a:112S-119S. Review. PubMed PMID: 10718463.
Laryngitis - Frequently asked questions