You have “lost” your voice, barely able to speak above a whisper, and frankly, any amount of conversation hurts your throat. This problem is what ENT doctors call laryngitis, and it comes in two forms–acute or chronic. In this blog, you will learn the difference between the two forms of this common throat condition, as well as its symptoms and treatments.
Acute Versus Chronic Laryngitis
Acute laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box in the throat and can come on suddenly after exposure to a bacteria or virus or even with a flare-up of seasonal allergies. Chronic laryngitis, while similar in symptom presentation, lasts two weeks or more, and sufferers have repeated bouts of voice hoarseness, cough, dry throat, and pain.
Research into laryngitis has revealed that about 21 percent of Americans get chronic laryngitis at some point in life. Unlike acute laryngitis, which is related to overusing your voice or a simple cold, chronic laryngitis can result from:
- Acid reflux disease, or GERD
- Smoking cigarettes
- Repeated overuse of alcohol
- Long periods of voice overuse–singing, yelling/cheering at sporting events and public speaking
- Chronic sinus infections
- Long-term use of inhaled corticosteroids for the treatment of asthma and other respiratory conditions
Either way, laryngitis features irritation and swelling in the voice box. Along with voice changes, this swelling causes problems with swallowing and breathing.
Most bouts of laryngitis resolve within a week or so and respond well to at-home treatments. It’s very important to push fluids, especially water, and to use:
- Over-the-counter throat lozenges
- An in-room humidifier
- A saltwater gargle
Eliminate all alcohol and caffeine until you recover and avoid over-the-counter decongestants because they dry out the mucous membranes in the throat. Rest the voice as much as possible. Interestingly, whispering is not a good idea as it actually strains the larynx more than a normal voice volume can.
Usually, when laryngitis runs longer a week or two, this ENT problem may not be viral or bacterial but rather a complication of chronic sinus infections. So, see your ENT doctor for an in-office evaluation.
Your otolaryngologist can inspect your voice box via lighted laryngoscopy and also take a throat culture determine if it is a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. He may even take a biopsy to determine the cause of any nodules on the vocal cords.
For treatment of chronic laryngitis, you may need a course of antibiotics, corticosteroids for inflammation and pain medication to resolve symptoms, depending on the results of your tests. As you recover and get back to normal, monitor your throat symptoms. Call your ear, nose and throat specialist if you:
- Have a lot of throat pain
- Cough up blood
- Cannot breathe properly
- Have a long-lasting fever
Treatment for Laryngitis in Georgetown, TX
At Georgetown Ear, Nose, and Throat, Dr. Scott William Franklin is our board-certified expert in sleep medicine, ENT and allergy treatments. If you think your laryngitis is severe and is becoming chronic, contact us for an informative evaluation. Dr. Franklin will determine if your throat condition is chronic or acute, identify its causes and develop a care plan to relieve your symptoms.
Call us at (512) 869-0604, or request your visit here. You can get your voice back and feel better, too.