Back behind the wheel: Laryngitis: Where did my voice go?
September 1, 2007
A few weeks ago one of my patients came into my clinic for their regular adjustment and was just getting over a case of laryngitis. Two days went by and then I started to feel a little tickle in my th...
A few weeks ago one of my patients came into my clinic for their regular adjustment and was just getting over a case of laryngitis. Two days went by and then I started to feel a little tickle in my throat.
By the next night I had lost my voice and my throat was very sore. As the saying goes, “You must teach what you need to know.”
As a result, this month I am going discuss the topic of laryngitis.
Basically, laryngitis is an inflammation of your larynx or voice box which is due to overuse, irritation or infection.
As you may have guessed, your vocal chords are located inside of your larynx.
Normally, our vocal chords move smoothly to create sound as we talk.
However, when they become inflamed, there is a distortion of the sounds.
As a result, your voice may become hoarse or in severe cases your voice may become so faint that it is undetectable.
Laryngitis is usually short-lived, lasting only a few days.
These cases are due to a viral irritation.
However, if the hoarseness persists it can signal a more serious problem.
The signs and symptoms of laryngitis are very simple to recognize.
One of the first signs is the need to constantly clear your throat. Other signs may include: hoarseness; weak voice; tickling sensation in your throat; soar throat; and dry cough.
The majority of cases of laryngitis are due to a viral infection. Bacterial infections such as strep throat are fairly rare.
It may also occur during the course of another illness such as a cold or flu. Other causes include constant irritation from excessive alcohol, heavy smoking or acid reflux.
As stated above, laryngitis is usually a temporary problem that clears up on its own.
You can successfully manage most cases by resting your voice, drinking plenty of fluids, and sucking on lozenges.
If it lasts more that two weeks, you should consult with your family physician.
If you have chronic hoarseness, your doctor may want to listen to your voice and visualize your vocal chords.
In this case, your doctor will refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist.
The treatment of laryngitis depends on it cause.
The best treatment for most cases caused by a virus is to rest your voice as much as possible and avoid clearing your throat. This does more harm than good, because it causes more stress on your vocal chords which in turn will cause more swelling.
As you can see, this will lead to a vicious cycle.
It may also help to inhale steam from a bowl of hot water or warm shower.
Finally, avoid whispering as this puts more stress on your voice than normal speech.
If your laryngitis is due to a bacterial infection your doctor will probably prescribe you some antibiotics.
There are a few things you can do to minimize your chances of getting laryngitis such as not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke, drinking plenty of water, and limiting your consumption of alcohol and caffeine both of which will dry out your throat. In addition, try to use a humidifier in your home, especially during the winter months when your furnace working.
Just in case you were wondering, you will be happy to know that I have fully recovered from my bout of laryngitis. Until next time, drive safely!
– Dr. Christopher Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024.