Is your voice a little hoarse? We often take our voice for granted. It is our principal tool for communication, however it is not until we lose it that we realise how much we rely on it. One condition that can affect our voice is laryngitis. Learn how to identify the signs and symptoms and what you should and shouldn’t do when you have laryngitis.
Signs and Symptoms
One condition that can affect our voice is laryngitis, which is characterised by an inflammation of the larynx (voice box). The characteristic symptom of laryngitis is loss of voice or hoarseness. The loss of voice occurs because when the voice box becomes inflamed, the vocal chords are unable to vibrate as they usually do, and are consequently unable to produce sound, or can only produce limited sounds.
Other symptoms associated with laryngitis are it being painful to speak or swallow and shortness of breath. Laryngitis can also be accompanied by symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection such as a sore throat and respiratory congestion.
Causes of Laryngitis
The most common cause of laryngitis is an infection by one of the viruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections. Less commonly, it may be caused by a bacterial infection or a symptom of another infection such as measles or chicken pox. Other causes may include irritation of the larynx due to over-using your voice (e.g. singing or yelling loudly or for long periods), use of asthma inhalers, cigarette smoke or other inhaled toxins (e.g. air pollution), and gastric acids in reflux disease.
What not to do when you have Laryngitis
Laryngitis normally resolves within a short time, but you may exacerbate your lost voice by continuing to try to talk normally while you’ve got it. If you need to speak, you’ll do least damage to your voice by using a soft, sighing voice. Don’t whisper as it may aggravate the larynx further. Avoid smoking while you have laryngitis as it will only delay your recovery.
Some helpful tips
A humidifier, such as Euky Bear Vaporiser, may help to clear mucus from the airways.
Echinacea has been shown to help support the immune system and may assist the body in fighting infections. Echinacea is often taken with antioxidant nutrients that also support the immune system such as vitamin C and E and the mineral zinc. Supplements available include Cenovis Echinacea Garlic and C Tablets and Thompsons One-A-Day Echinacea. Lozenges containing Echinacea, vitamin C and zinc may be useful in soothing and relieving the throat, such as Blackmores Echinacea Citrus Throat Lozenges.
The majority of the time laryngitis will resolve in a week to ten days. However, if your laryngitis lasts for more than three weeks, it may be considered chronic and you should seek advice from a healthcare professional.