The larynx has your vocal cords inside – two folds of mucous membrane that cover muscle and cartilage. When your vocal cords open and close, they form sounds due to their movement and vibration. But in laryngitis, your vocal cords become inflamed it causes swelling and distortion of the sounds hoarse. In some cases, the voice becomes hard to detect.
The causes that contribute to the development of laryngitis are overheating, hypothermia, breathing through the mouth, dusty air, air overvoltage larynx.
Laryngitis can be acute and short-term or chronic that last for more than three weeks. Acute laryngitis occurs as a result of local hypothermia or excessive surge voice (eg, singers, teachers), or as one of the manifestations of common acute infections (influenza, measles, etc.). The inflammatory process can capture all mucous membrane of the larynx ( a diffuse form of laryngitis), or mucosa of the epiglottis, vocal folds, and walls of the infraglottic cavity. Chronic laryngitis develops as a consequence of repeated acute laryngitis or long-term inflammation of the nose and paranasal sinuses, pharynx. Smoking and alcohol abuse, over-voltage of voice contribute to this form of laryngitis. Chronic laryngitis often occurs in teachers as a professional disease.
The most common causes of laryngitis include:
- Excessive coughing, smoking, alcohol consumption
- Bacterial infection
- Injury, damage of the mucous membrane of the larynx and upper trachea
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Hypothermia or overuse of voice by talking, singing or shouting
- Irritants and chemicals
- Prolonged use of inhaled corticosteroids for asthma treatment
Signs and symptoms
If laryngitis is caused by something minor such as virus it will, symptoms will last less than a couple of weeks. But more often this disease is caused by something more serious and it leads to long-term laryngitis symptoms.
[See also: Tonsillitis]
There are such possible signs and symptoms:
- Weak voice or voice loss
- Dry, burning, sore throat or throat pain
- Fever, cold or flu-like symptoms
- Swollen lymph nodes or glands in the neck
- Dysphagia (when it’s difficult to swallow)
- Shortness of breath
- Increased production of saliva
Sometimes there is a pain when swallowing, headache, and a small rise in body temperature (up to 37,4 °).
Types of laryngitis
Catarrhal laryngitis – this is the mildest form of the disease. It is characterized by following symptoms: hoarseness, rawness in the throat, feeling sore, coughing.
Hypertrophic laryngitis includes stronger hoarseness, cough, and sore. Moreover, the small growths form on ligament, so-called “singer’s nodules” that give the voice a hoarseness.
Atrophic laryngitis appears as thinning of the inner mucous membrane of the larynx. Patients complain of dry mouth, painful cough, their voice is usually hoarse. With a strong cough can release crust streaked with blood.
Doctors believe that the reason of such laryngitis is overuse of acute food rich in condiments and spices.
Diphtheritic laryngitis appears because of diphtheria and caused by spreading of infection from the tonsils down to the larynx. The mucous membrane is covered with a white membrane, which can be separated, and result in choking.
Tuberculous laryngitis usually occurs due to spreading of tuberculosis from the lungs. This type of laryngitis includes the formation of lumpy nodules in the tissues of the larynx. It is also possible to have a destruction of the laryngeal cartilage and epiglottis.
Syphilitic laryngitis can appear because laryngitis is one of the complications of syphilis. Durin the second stage of syphilis, ulceration and mucosal plaques can be formed. In the third stage of disease, it possible to see the scars that can deform the larynx and the vocal cords, which can lead to irreversible hoarseness.
The doctors can identify laryngitis performing a physical examination. They will also ask questions about the beginning of the disease. Examination of the vocal cords and sound voice will help your doctor to choose the appropriate treatment. To diagnose laryngitis, the doctor may conduct a survey and study of disease history. The doctor will probe your neck to check if lymph nodes are not inflamed and examine your nose, mouth, and throat for inflammation.
There are some methods that help to identify laryngitis:
- Laryngoscopy. To perform this analysis your doctor will use a light and tiny mirror to look into the back of your throat. During this test, the doctor may also take a sample of tissue for biopsy in order to eliminate cancer and other serious diseases. Also, it may be used fiber-optic laryngoscopy that includes inserting a thin flexible tube (endoscope) with a small camera and light to your throat, so your doctor may see the motion of vocal cords when you speak.
- Biopsy. This can be done if your doctor sees a suspicious area.
Acute laryngitis usually gets better on its own after a week. Treatment of acute laryngitis consists of elimination of causes of the disease. For a complete throat rest for 5-7 days the patient is recommended not to talk. The patient should exclude from the menu spicy food, spices, alcohol and do not smoke. The medical procedures include warm drinks, gargling, warm inhalation, the heat of the neck (hot compress bandage). The doctor also may assign medical treatment.
Patients with chronic pharyngitis have to be examined by a doctor. Because, depending on the nature of the inflammatory process, the doctor prescribes appropriate treatment: inhalation, lubrication of the larynx, various physical therapy treatments, and if necessary, drugs, and even surgery. To prevent the development of chronic laryngitis, the timely treatment of acute laryngitis is necessary.