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Acute laryngitis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About acute laryngitis

Acute laryngitis, a common respiratory condition, is an inflammatory condition of the larynx, also called the voice box. The vocal cords, which are part of the voice box, gets inflammed.

Acute laryngitis: Incidence, age and sex

Acute laryngitis may be encountered in any age group. Both children and adults are equally susceptible. It is found in equal frequency in men and women. Certain people like teachers, lawyers, stage actors, are more prone to get afflicted with laryngitis since these occupations demand increased or continuous use of their voices.

Signs and symptoms of acute laryngitis: Diagnosis

The inflammation of vocal cords causes its swelling leading to hoarseness of voice. Sometimes this hoarseness can be very severe making the person unable to speak. Some patients also complain of itchy feeling in the throat. The hoarseness is accompanied by fever, fatigue, body aches and sore throat. Other features like cough, nasal congestion, headache and difficulty in swallowing are seen infrequently.

Cough is a more prominent symptom than hoarseness in children with acute laryngitis. In infants, acute laryngitis is a serious condition. The swelling of vocal cords in infants can obstruct the airway causing impaired breathing. So as the air passes through the passage, it creates a characteristic sound, called stridor. This is a medical emergency and must immediately be attended to.

Causes and prevention of acute laryngitis

In acute laryngitis, the tissues lining the vocal cords become red and swollen, leading to some peculiar clinical features. There are several causes which may cause an inflammation of the vocal cords of which bacterial and viral infection of the larynx are the commonest. Bacterial and viral laryngitis are infectious and can be transmitted from person to person. Laryngitis can also result from exposure to allergens like pollen, dust, smoke and other irritants. In people with reflux problems, the gastric juices corrode the tissue lining of vocal cords, thus leading to its inflammation.

Some instances of laryngitis can be prevented by avoiding misuse of the voice which is caused by shouting and coughing. Moreover in anyone affected with laryngitis, the person concerned should always cover one’s mouth while coughing, to prevent any micro organisms from spreading to other people. Furthermore, smoking cessation and avoidance of exposure to toxic allergens are also helpful.

Acute laryngitis: Complications

The complications of acute laryngitis are rare but serious. Repeated episodes of laryngitis coupled with inadequate treatment may result in the loss of voice. Moreover inflamed, swollen vocal cords can narrow down the air passage and obstruct breathing. This is an emergency condition usually seen in infants but may also occur in adults.

Acute laryngitis: Treatment

Acute laryngitis is usually self-limiting and improves within a week’s time with sufficient rest to the voice. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if bacterial laryngitis is suspected. Patients having gastric acid reflux problem should be treated with appropriate medications to avoid gastric juice associated trauma to the vocal cords.