How to Understand If You Have Laryngitis
The term laryngitis indicates inflammation of the larynx. This portion of the throat is irritated and the voice becomes hoarse or even disappears altogether. In many cases, laryngitis is a minor and temporary condition caused by a cold or other recent disorder. However, it can also be a chronic disease, a sign of a more serious health problem. Learn to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of this inflammation to determine if your larynx is inflamed.
Recognize the Symptoms
1) Pay attention to the quality of the voice.
The first sign of laryngitis is the hoarse or weakened voice; this becomes irregular, hoarse, rough or too low or weak. In acute cases, the vocal cords swell and fail to vibrate properly.Try to ask yourself:
Is your voice guttural or croaking when you speak?
Do you feel it is lower than usual?
Do you miss the voice or the sound fades without you wanting it?
Did you change tonality? Is the voice more acute or lower than normal?
Can not you raise the volume of the voice beyond the whisper?
Remember that changes in the voice can also occur after a stroke due to paralysis of the vocal cords. You may find that you are no longer able to speak. In this case, however, you should present other symptoms, such as the deviation of the corner of the mouth, weakness of the limbs, inability to hold back the saliva and difficulty swallowing.
2) See if you suffer from a dry cough.
The irritation of the vocal cords triggers the cough reflex, but the typical one of laryngitis is dry and not greasy. This is because the tussive phenomenon is limited to the upper airways and not to the lower airways where phlegm is usually produced.
If you have a fat cough with phlegm, then it is likely that it is not laryngitis. Maybe you have a cold or another viral disease. However, this kind of ailments can potentially turn into laryngitis after some time.
3) See if you have a dry, sore throat that conveys a feeling of “fullness”.
Laryngitis causes painful or otherwise annoying throat symptoms. You may have the feeling that it is “full” or rough because the walls of the nasopharynx (the area of conjunction between the airways and the gastric tract) or the throat are swollen. Ask the following questions:
Does your throat hurt when you eat or swallow?
Do you feel the need to constantly clear your throat?
Is the throat irritated and “rough”?
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4) Measure the temperature.
In some cases, laryngitis is caused by an infection that could also lead to a mild or moderate fever. Check the temperature to see if you have a fever; if the answer is positive, you may have viral laryngitis. Fever should generally resolve alone within a few days, while throat symptoms will last a little longer.
If the fever persists or worsens, you need immediate medical attention because the infection may have evolved into pneumonia. Contact your doctor immediately if the temperature exceeds 39.5 ° C.
5) Try to remember if you have recently shown cold or flu symptoms.
Typical signs of laryngitis often continue for several days or weeks after recovery from a cold, flu or another similar viral disease. If you have a sore throat and have had flu-like symptoms in the last few weeks, then you may have laryngitis. Specifically, the symptoms are:
– a runny nose;
– A headache;
– Muscular pains.
6) Evaluate if you have difficulty breathing.
This is a fairly common phenomenon during an inflammation of the larynx, especially in young children. If you or your child have “shortness of breath”, you can not breathe when you are lying down or you make acute sounds (screeching) during inhalation, then you may suffer from laryngitis. In this case, it is an emergency situation that must be immediately brought to the attention of a doctor. Go to the emergency room right away.
7) Palate the throat looking for nodules.
Chronic laryngitis is sometimes accompanied by the formation of nodules, polyps or neoformations near the vocal cords or directly on them. If you have the feeling that there is a “bump” that blocks the throat, you may have laryngitis and you should go straight to the doctor. In many cases, the presence of this neoformation is due to a chronic inflammation caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The sensation triggers the desire to free the throat. If you feel this need, try to resist, because the act of clearing your voice actually makes the situation worse.
8) Evaluate your ability to swallow. In severe cases, the patient has difficulty doing it.
There are other more serious medical conditions associated with laryngitis and which can cause problems with swallowing. For example, the presence of a tumour mass or a lump in the larynx can compress the oesophagus and cause this kind of problem. It is a symptom that must be subjected to medical treatment.
When the problem is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease, chronic irritation of the oesophagus caused by stomach acids is observed. As a consequence ulcers can form in the oesophagus that prevents proper swallowing.
9) Write down on the calendar how long you’re feeling hoarse.
Many people notice a drop in voice from time to time. However, if chronic laryngitis will last well over two weeks. Write on the calendar when you have noticed voice problems for the first time and inform the doctor about the duration of the symptoms. In this way, he will be able to determine if yours is a case of acute or chronic laryngitis.
Hoarseness is characterized by a low, croaking voice that easily gets tired.
In addition to laryngitis, there are several causes of hoarseness. A tumour in the chest or neck could compress the nerves causing this disorder. Other symptoms of neoplasia include a persistent cough, loss of appetite, oedema of the arms and face, and so on. Call your doctor immediately if you display these signs concurrently with laryngitis.
Know the Risk Factors for Acute Laryngitis
10) Learn about acute laryngitis.
It is the most common form and is characterized by the sudden onset of typical symptoms that reach maximum severity within a day or two. This disease usually resolves within a few days and you should start feeling much better within a week. Most people have suffered this disorder at least once.
11) Know that the most common cause is a viral infection.
Laryngitis is usually preceded by an infection of the respiratory tract, such as the common cold, the flu or sinusitis. The acute form may continue for a few days after the other infectious symptoms resolve.
At this stage, you can infect other people with drops of saliva released by coughing or sneezing. Put good hygiene practices into practice to avoid infecting others.
12) Be aware that bacterial infections can also cause acute laryngitis.
Although they are rarer than viral, laryngitis of bacterial nature is also possible and are generally due to pneumonia, bacterial bronchitis or diphtheria. In this case, you must undergo antibiotic therapy to get rid of the disease.
13) Consider if you have recently used the item too much.
Another common cause of this inflammation is a sudden abuse of the vocal cords. If you scream, sing or speak for a long time you can strain the phonatory apparatus and cause the oedema of the vocal cords. People who use a lot of voice for work or for their hobbies are at risk of developing chronic laryngitis. However, excessive use of the vocal cords can also generate temporary laryngitis. The most frequent causes, in this case, are:
Shout to be heard at the bar;
Mifare at sporting events;
Sing loudly without the right preparation;
Talk or sing loudly in an environment full of smoke or other irritants.
Know the Risk Factors for Chronic Laryngitis
14) Know what chronic laryngitis is.
If the inflammation persists for more than two or three weeks, then it is called “chronic”.  Usually the voice changes gradually over a few weeks. The situation often worsens with prolonged use of the vocal cords, while in other cases it is indicative of other more serious pathologies.
15) Remember that volatile irritants can cause chronic laryngitis.
Prolonged inhalation of irritants such as chemical vapours, smoke and allergens is related to this type of inflammation. Smokers, firefighters and individuals working with chemicals are at greater risk.
You should avoid exporting to allergens as well. When the body has an allergic response, all tissues become inflamed, including the larynx. If you know you are allergic to a substance, try to avoid it by not developing chronic laryngitis.
16) Be aware that gastroesophageal reflux disease causes laryngitis.
In reality, it is even the most common. Patients with this condition suffer from reflux of gastric acids to the oesophagus and the mouth. During breathing, some of these acids can be inadvertently inhaled, thus irritating the larynx. The chronic irritation, in turn, inflates the vocal cords and consequently modifies the voice.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is curable by making changes to the diet and by taking medications. Ask your doctor for advice if you suffer from chronic laryngitis caused by this gastric disease.
17) Monitor alcohol consumption.
Alcoholic beverages relax the muscles of the larynx, making the voice hoarse. A prolonged intake irritates the laryngeal mucous membrane thus triggering inflammation.
Alcohol abuse can also worsen acid reflux disease and is a risk factor for some throat cancers. All these diseases can, in turn, be the cause of chronic laryngitis.
18) Know that excessive use of the phonatory apparatus can also lead to chronic inflammation.
Singers, teachers, bartenders and speakers are particularly at risk of developing this condition. The abuse of the vocal cords makes them thicker and fatigues them. Furthermore, improper use of the voice leads to the formation of polyps (abnormal tissue formation) on the mucous membranes. If the polyps grow on the vocal cords, they can irritate the larynx and thus cause inflammation.
If you are a professional exposed to this type of risk, consider turning to a speech therapist or taking diction lessons to learn how to speak by stressing the vocal cords as little as possible. It is worth restoring your voice during the days when you do not have to talk, sing or scream.
19) Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
If the symptoms of inflammation persist or show signs of particular concern, such as difficulty breathing or swallowing, then you should call the doctor immediately or go to the hospital. Depending on the severity of the situation you can just go to your family doctor or undergo the treatment of an otolaryngologist.
20) Give your doctor all your medical history.
The first step towards the formulation of the diagnosis is an accurate anamnesis. The doctor will ask you questions about your profession, any allergies, the medications you take, the symptoms you have and all the recent infections you have suffered. This is the first step to understand whether or not you suffer from laryngitis and whether it is chronic or acute.
Your doctor will most likely ask you if you have noticed the symptoms of common health complaints that cause laryngitis, such as acid reflux, alcohol abuse and chronic allergies.
21) Pronunciation of “aaaaah”.
The doctor will examine the throat and the vocal cords with the help of a mirror. Opening the throat and emitting the sound “aaaaah” allows him to see these organs better. The doctor will observe the larynx in search of swelling, lesions, polyps, neoformations and colour changes that can help him in the diagnosis.
If the doctor suspects that the aetiology is bacterial, he will provide a throat swab. Using a cotton bud he will pick up a sample of the lining of the throat and send it to a laboratory for analysis. The procedure causes an unpleasant sensation in the throat, but it is a very brief discomfort.
22) Subject to more invasive tests.
Most likely your laryngitis is acute and you will not have to undergo other tests. However, if the doctor is concerned about the possibility of chronic disease, cancer or other serious illnesses, then you will need to perform tests to determine the severity of the situation.
Laryngoscopy– During this procedure, the otolaryngologist uses a light and a mirror to examine how the vocal cords move. In some cases, it is necessary to insert a thin tube with a video camera through the nose or mouth to get a better view of the behaviour of these organs while you are talking.
Biopsy. If the doctor suspects you have precancerous or cancerous cells, then he will perform a biopsy of the vocal cords. It will take a sample of cells from the suspect area and examine it under a microscope to identify its malign or benign nature.
Thoracic radiography— This is the most common test for children suffering from severe laryngitis symptoms. In this way, possible oedema or disturbing obstruction can be detected.