Let’s talk about laryngitis!
OK, bad joke. Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx (voice box) that often results in a lost voice. It’s pretty common in Midlands, associated with a number of conditions. Laryngitis usually clears up after a few days, but in the meantime, can leave you feeling pretty miserable. Fortunately, home remedies can help speed up the healing process.
Causes & Symptoms of Laryngitis
Laryngitis is most often associated with overuse or misuse of the voice box, irritation or infection. Common causes include viral or bacterial infections; vocal strain; acid reflux; chronic sinusitis; environmental irritants; smoking and alcohol. Rarely, something more serious, such as cancer, vocal cord paralysis or bowing of the vocal cords due to age is responsible. There are two types of laryngitis: acute and chronic. The latter persists for three weeks or longer.
Inflammation of the larynx causes a variety of symptoms including:
- Lost voice
- Painful swallowing
- Chronic cough
- Postnasal drip
- Dry throat
- Lump in the throat
- Frequent throat clearing
These symptoms can interfere with many aspects of your daily life, so you’ll probably be eager to feel better as soon as you can.
Tips for Treating Laryngitis
Your CENTA ear, nose and throat doctor recommends the following home remedies for treating laryngitis.
- Resting the voice. The best thing you can to do promote healing of your voice is to not use it! Giving your voice a rest helps reduce swelling and irritation of the vocal cords, enabling them to heal more quickly. Some people think it’s okay to whisper, but doing so actually places more strain on the vocal cords than speaking quietly.
- Gargle with saltwater. Saltwater helps kill harmful bacteria and soothes throat pain. Mix half a teaspoon of salt in an eight ounce glass of warm water, stirring until it dissolves. Gargle in the back of the throat and then spit it out, being careful not to swallow the water. Repeat several times a day for a minimum of 24 hours.
- Use a humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can help soothe a dry or inflamed throat. Try adding cooling essential oils, such as menthol or eucalyptus, for an added boost—but if you have pets, it’s best to skip this step.
- Eat foods with antibacterial properties. Garlic, ginger root and honey all have proven antibacterial properties that have been demonstrated to ease cold and flu symptoms and help you recover from an infection more quickly. It’s easy to incorporate garlic into many different foods; ginger and honey can both be mixed into hot water or tea, which will also help with throat discomfort. Honey also works as a cough suppressant.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is important when you’re suffering from a sore throat or laryngitis. Both warm and cool liquids will help soothe vocal cords and moisten a dry throat; stay away from soda, very hot beverages, and milk, all of which can worsen symptoms.
- Manage acid reflux. If you experience frequent heartburn, try over-the-counter antacids; avoid large meals; wait at least three hours after eating to go to bed; and avoid foods that can trigger acid reflux symptoms. These include caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods, fatty foods and peppermint.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol. Cigarettes and alcohol can both contribute to inflammation, so it’s best to stay away from these substances when you’re experiencing laryngitis.
- Use OTC pain relievers. Over-the-counter medications can help relieve swelling and throat discomfort, making you more comfortable while your illness runs its course. Generic pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen work well, too. Aspirin might help, but do not give it to children; it has the potential to cause a life-threatening illness called Reye’s syndrome.
If throat pain and laryngitis do not resolve within two weeks and you have tried these home remedies, make an appointment with a CENTA ear, nose and throat specialist in order to rule out anything serious.