WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Laryngitis (LAIR-in-JIE-tis) is an irritation and swelling of the voice box and the area around it. It may cause your voice to change, or you may lose your voice entirely for a short while. The problem is most common in late fall, winter, or early spring. With or without treatment, you should be well in 7 to 14 days.
Laryngitis is usually caused by a virus or by bacteria. People who smoke, have allergies, or strain their voices by yelling, talking, or singing may also come down with the problem.
The classic symptoms are a hoarse, low voice, and a scratchy throat. You also might lose your voice, develop a sore throat, come down with a fever, feel you have a lump in your throat, or feel very tired.
Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat any infection.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
Do not use your voice for several days. Either speak very softly or write notes until you can talk normally.
Use a cool-mist humidifier (vaporizer) to increase air moisture and help relieve the tight feeling in your throat. Hot, steamy showers can also help.
Do not drink alcohol or smoke until your voice is back to normal.
Get plenty of rest.
Drink extra fluids, such as water, fruit juice, and tea.
At the start of hoarseness DO NOT GARGLE. This is like rubbing your eyes when they are inflamed. Reduce your talking, stay off the phone. Coughing makes hoarseness much worse. Steam is good - boil water, stick out your tongue and breathe the steam. Drink warm liquids - more is better, but not boiling hot. Avoid ice. Papain/ bromelain enzyme tablets such as Clear Ease, dissolved in the mouth between the cheek and gums, are very effective. This is especially useful if the pain follows flying or scuba diving. Clear Ease is a blend of pineapple and papaya enzymes designed especially for sinus and other inflammation. The enzyme activity one million units of bromelain from pineapple and a half million units of papain from papaya. (Be careful of using enzyme tablets which do not list the enzyme activity - you can't be sure if you're getting the right amount.)
Hoarseness develops because the cold or sore throat gets to the larynx and causes the vocal cords to swell. It gets worse because we try to speak in spite of the swelling, or if people speak incorrectly. The more relaxed your neck muscles, the less chance for hoarseness. Frequent hoarseness may be caused by tight neck muscles. Make sure your head is not turned when you talk. Speaking from bed may be a factor. I have my singers do an exercise in the shower: with the water directed onto back of the neck, gently turn the neck, as if to see who is standing behind you. Alternate sides and continue for 3 minutes. If performed daily, this will help to keep these muscles relaxed.