Laryngitis or laryngitis is inflammation that occurs in the larynx , which is the part of the respiratory tract where the vocal cords are located . This condition can be caused by irritation, infection, or overuse of the larynx. 

Laryngitis is usually marked by sore throat, cough, fever, hoarseness, and even loss of voice. In children, laryngitis can cause difficulty breathing, because the structure of the children's airways is smaller. However, this rarely happens.

Causes of Laryngitis

Laryngitis is divided into two types, namely acute laryngitis and chronic laryngitis, each of which is caused by different conditions. Here is the explanation:

Acute laryngitis 

Acute laryngitis is a type of laryngitis that lasts for several days to weeks. In some cases, acute laryngitis can even heal on its own without treatment. Usually, this condition will improve after the cause is treated.

Some causes of acute laryngitis are:

  • Vocal cord injuries Vocal cord
    injuries can be caused by overuse of the vocal cords when talking, singing, or screaming
  • Viral infections. The viruses
    that cause acute laryngitis are usually the same types of viruses that cause respiratory infections
  • Bacterial infection
    One type of bacteria that causes acute laryngitis is the bacteria that causes diphtheria .

Chronic laryngitis

Laryngitis is called chronic if it lasts more than 3 weeks. Generally, this type of laryngitis occurs due to exposure to the cause continuously for a long time. The causes of chronic laryngitis are:

  • Changes in the shape of the vocal cords due to age
  • Smoking habit
  • Alcohol addiction
  • The habit of using the voice excessively and for long periods of time, as is common for singers or cheerleaders
  • Frequent exposure to materials that can cause irritation or allergic reactions, such as chemicals, dust and smoke
  • Fungal infections , usually occur in people with asthma who use long-term inhaled corticosteroid drugs
  • Vocal cord paralysis due to certain injuries or diseases, such as stroke .
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Someone with a weak immune system is more at risk of suffering from laryngitis. For example, people with HIV / AIDS , patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, or people who use long-term corticosteroid drugs.

Laryngitis Symptoms

Laryngitis can be characterized by mild and temporary symptoms (acute), to symptoms that are more serious and last longer (chronic). Symptoms that are common in people with laryngitis include:

  • Discomfort in the throat
  • Dry throat
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • The voice becomes hoarse or even disappears

People with laryngitis can also experience inflammation in the nose, throat or tonsils. Symptoms that can appear are headaches, runny nose, weakness and aching rheumatic pain, and swollen lymph nodes .

When to see a doctor

Most cases of acute laryngitis can be treated at home. However, if the symptoms continue for more than 2 weeks and continue to get worse, it is recommended that you consult a doctor.

Laryngitis can cause other, more serious symptoms. Immediately seek medical help at the Emergency Room (ER) if the following symptoms appear:

  • Fever that does not subside
  • Worse sore throat
  • Difficult to swallow
  • Coughing blood
  • It's hard to breathe

Children sufferers can also experience serious symptoms that require treatment in the emergency room. These symptoms include:

  • High-pitched breath sounds that occur when inhaling ( stridor )
  • Drooling or excessive drooling
  • Fever over 39ºC
  • Coughing blood
  • Difficult to swallow
  • It's hard to breathe

These symptoms can signal other serious conditions, such as croup and epiglottitis .

Diagnosis Laringitis

In diagnosing laryngitis, the doctor will first look at the symptoms experienced by the patient. The easiest symptom of laryngitis to detect is a voice that turns hoarse or even disappears altogether.

Next, the doctor will examine the patient's throat using a small glass. The doctor will also do a blood test and a throat swab test using a cotton swab (small cotton), to then be examined in the laboratory. The goal is to find out if there is a bacterial or fungal infection.

To see the condition of the larynx in more detail, for example detecting irritation or damage to the vocal cords, the doctor will carry out the following supporting examinations:

  • Laryngoscopy Laryngoscopy is performed by inserting a flexible tube equipped with a light and camera (endoscope) into the larynx through the mouth or nose.
  • Biopsy
    Biopsy is taking tissue samples from the larynx for examination in the laboratory, to find out the cause of laryngitis.

If laryngitis recurs or lasts for a long time, the doctor will refer the patient to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist for further examination.

Laryngitis Treatment

Most laryngitis can get better on its own in about 1 week without treatment. However, treatment by a doctor can relieve troubling symptoms and speed recovery.

To deal with laryngitis independently, there are several ways you can do it at home, including:

  • Drink lots of water and don't consume caffeinated or alcoholic drinks
  • Inhale an inhaler containing menthol to relieve uncomfortable breathing passages
  • Eating mints and gargling with warm salt water or special mouthwash to soothe the throat
  • Speak slowly to reduce tension on inflamed vocal cords
  • Avoid using drugs that can make your throat dry, such as decongestants
  • Avoid exposure to irritants and allergies, such as cigarette smoke and dust
  • Stop smoking

If needed, the doctor can provide medicines to treat the underlying causes or conditions for laryngitis. These drugs include:

  • Ibuprofen or paracetamol , to relieve sore throat, headache or fever
  • Antihistamines , to treat allergies that appear
  • Stomach acid-lowering drugs, to treat GERD
  • Cough medicine, to relieve cough
  • Corticosteroids, to relieve inflammation in the vocal cords
  • Antibiotics , to treat bacterial infections

Laryngitis complications

Laryngitis caused by infection can cause complications in the form of spreading the infection to other parts of the respiratory tract, such as the lungs.

People with laryngitis can also experience a chronic cough. This condition will make the sufferer easy to choke so that food enters the respiratory tract. As a result, sufferers can experience a lung infection ( pneumonia ).

Prevention of laryngitis

Laryngitis can be avoided by understanding its causes and risk factors. The following are some ways you can prevent laryngitis:

  • Get flu vaccination every year according to schedule
  • Limit consumption of alcoholic and caffeinated drinks
  • Do not smoke
  • Increase drinking water
  • Make it a habit to wash your hands before and after eating, or after going to the toilet
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) at work
  • Reducing the volume when speaking
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