Most people know what it is like to lose their voice from overuse, but it generally only lasts a day or two. When more prolonged voice loss occurs, it may be due to laryngitis. This throat condition is an inflammation of the larynx or voice box that results in a raspy or hoarse voice, even complete voice loss. At Julie Zweig, MD Integrative Sleep & ENT, we provide diagnosis and treatment for laryngitis at our medical clinic in Alpharetta, GA.
The larynx is located at the top of the throat and is connected to the trachea (windpipe). This organ is responsible for providing the sound vibrations that we turn into words, speech and screams. Like any part of the body, it can be strained from overuse. Screaming to cheer on your favorite team can leave your voice box strained and inflamed, a form of laryngitis. However, there are other possible causes of larynx inflammation or infection.
Causes of Laryngitis
The most common causes of laryngitis are exposure to certain contaminants, strain and infections. The location of the larynx at the top of the throat has it exposed to both the air flowing through to the lungs and substances flowing down from the nose and sinuses. Some of the possible causes of inflammation of the larynx or laryngitis include:
- Viral infections like colds and flu
- Inhaling irritants such as smoke or fumes
- Straining the vocal cords
- Bacterial infections
- Acid reflux – GERD or LPR
- Sinus infections
- Lifestyle factors – dehydration, excessive alcohol or smoking
Laryngitis can be acute or chronic. When it is chronic, patients may have a hoarse voice that cracks or completely gives out for weeks or months. Symptoms that can accompany voice loss include a sore throat, trouble swallowing and coughing.
Most acute cases of laryngitis can be resolved with home remedies of rest and hydration. When laryngitis continues for a week or more, it may require medical treatment. This can include treatment for the underlying condition, but it can also involve reducing inflammation within the larynx.
There are serious health conditions that can cause laryngitis, such as throat cancer and vocal cord paralysis. Laryngitis can also have complications including pneumonia and respiratory tract injections. If you have ongoing voice loss, it is important to receive an exam, diagnosis and treatment to protect your health. Contact us at Julie Zweig, MD Integrative Sleep & ENT to schedule an appointment with our throat specialist at our Alpharetta, GA, clinic.