My father ascertains that his hoarse voice is due to laryngitis. That was the first time I heard about the discomforts associated with laryngitis. I also happened to read about laryngitis in connection with heartburn. So what is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is one of the medical conditions that affect your voice. It refers to an infection or irritation of the larynx, the voice box which affect people of all ages. With laryngitis, you develop a hoarse voice. You will always be trying to clear your voice with no use. It is accompanied by loss of voice, sensation of a lump in the throat, throat pain, fever, cough, obstruction of the airways and unusual fatigue. It generally worsens in cold conditions and for some people in extreme hot conditions.

You may get laryngitis due to

-Overuse of voice as in the case of singers or teachers. Screaming, shouting, excessive use of cellular phone etc are the examples of misuse of voice.
-A lot of alcohol consumption and cigar smoking
-Prolonged crying in children
-A virus like cold
-Back flow of stomach acid into the throat (acid reflux)
-Inhaling harmful fumes

Laryngitis can be acute or chronic. Laryngitis is diagnosed with the help of blood tests, X-rays of the neck, laryngoscopy and throat culture. Normally, the voice problem should heal within a week without the help of medications. You can try taking care of your voice problem at home before rushing to a doctor.

Home Treatment

  1. Complete voice rest. Avoid too much of talking or clearing your throat. Forget lectures and meetings.
  2. If hoarseness of voice is due to cold, treat cold first. But remember that the hoarseness would not go away overnight.
  3. Quit both smoking and avoid passive smoking.
  4. Try gargling with warm salt water to reduce soreness. Drinking hot water with honey or lemon juice also helps. Do not give honey to infants.
  5. Drink less of alcohol and more of water. Take lots of fluids.
  6. Use humidifiers at home. Steaming works well on most occasions.
  7. Check if laryngitis is due to any medications like antihistamines.
  8. Treat heartburn or acid reflux if that is a likely cause for laryngitis.

You should visit your ENT specialist immediately if the infection worsens with fast breathing,  coughing with colored mucus, extreme pain or weakness.

-Aparna K V