Does your voice sound raspy or hoarse? It's possible that you have laryngitis. This condition, which refers to the inflammation of the larynx or the voice box, can make your voice sound weird or funny. Laryngitis can either be short-term or chronic. For most people, it can go away after about two weeks. For those that don't, it's a must to go to the doctor to have your chronic laryngitis checked since it may inflict serious problems on your health.
The most common cause of this condition is colds or flu. It can also be brought about by acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This type of laryngitis is known as reflux laryngitis. When the acid from the stomach travels back to the esophagus, it may infect the larynx and cause for it to be inflamed. Overusing the voice puts much strain on the voice box. Those who cheer at sports event or shout as part of their job are prone to laryngitis. Irritation from allergies and smoke can also lead to this problem.
Chronic laryngitis is commonly caused by GERD. Other than this, it can also be due to nerve damage or the presence of thick lumps or nodules in the vocal cords. The vocal cords refer to the elastic bands inside the larynx that vibrate and produce your voice. Vocal cords become thinner and looser as a person ages.
The most obvious symptom of laryngitis is hoarseness. The voice will sound raspy or deeper than usual. It also tends to break up once in a while. At times, you may lose your voice entirely but only temporarily until the illness goes away. Other than that, you may have dry or sore throat, coughing and difficulty in swallowing food or drinks. If there are any other symptoms, that means you have another problem. For example, a person who has a hard time breathing may possibly have epiglottis. This is a serious medical condition that needs emergency care.
To identify if you have laryngitis, your doctor will perform a physical exam. He/she will feel the neck to find if there are any sensitive areas or lumps. He/she will also look inside your nose, mouth and throat to find if there is any inflammation. Your doctor will also ask you about your symptoms and how your voice problem started.
For most people, laryngitis can be treated at home. Resting your voice and not shouting is the first step. Also an effective remedy is to add moisture into the air using a vaporizer or humidifier. Be sure to drink plenty of water too. Stay away from smoke and kick the smoking habit yourself. If you have chronic laryngitis, you'll need to undergo medical treatment. Speech training is recommended for those who encounter problems with talking or singing. Surgery may be necessary if the vocal cords have been damaged by polyps or sores.