Laryngitis refers to a group of medical problems that affect the vocal cords, or larynx. Common symptoms are hoarseness and voice loss.
Causes of Laryngitis
Laryngitis is typically classified as acute or chronic. When it lasts for just a few days or week, laryngitis is considered acute. Common causes of acute laryngitis are viral infections and inhalation of smoke or other irritants. Acute laryngitis usually resolves on its own in a short amount of time.
When laryngitis lasts for several weeks or months, it's known as chronic laryngitis. This can often be traced back to a more chronic problem or lifestyle decision. Some common causes of chronic laryngitis include cigarette smoking, acid reflux disease and a yeast infection in the throat that stems from the use of inhaled asthma medication. Chronic laryngitis is also common among people who have a weakened immune system from another medical condition or from having chemotherapy or taking medications.
The treatment for laryngitis will vary depending on the severity and cause of the illness. But there are some simple approaches that everyone can take, whether their laryngitis is acute or chronic. These strategies include staying well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding things that dry out the throat, like caffeine, alcohol and tobacco smoke. Using a humidifier at home or the office also helps keep the throat moist, and limiting the use of the voice while the throat is healing is also important. So is avoiding any offending irritants as much as possible.
Some forms of chronic laryngitis may require other steps to alleviate the problem, so it’s best to speak with a doctor if laryngitis persists despite at-home strategies.
SOURCES: American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery; Washington Voice Consortium