Introducing: Ask a Doctor
At UTHSC ENT, we understand that patients need clear, helpful answers to their questions. We also know that a flood of new information can be overwhelming.
That’s why our department’s introducing Ask a Doctor: an ongoing series of posts that tackle Frequently Asked Questions about common issues. We hope these articles give you a better understanding of your situation and an easy path to treatment.
Today, we highlight one of the most common issues in ENT: laryngitis.
Prepared by: Randy S. Carpenter
Reviewed by: Dr. Sandra Stinnett
What is laryngitis?
Laryngitis is inflammation of the voice box due to irritation, infection, or overuse. The larynx houses the vocal cords, which vibrate when you speak. So, laryngitis may feel like a sore throat with hoarseness when the vocal cords vibrate.
What are its causes and symptoms?
Causes of laryngitis include:
-Overuse, such as prolonged yelling
-Bacterial or viral infections
-Viruses like the cold are most common
-Fumes, smoke, chemicals
-Acid reflux (GERD)
-Chronic alcohol use
Some common symptoms include (but are not limited to):
-Hoarseness in your voice or loss of voice
-Tickling feeling in your throat
Treatment options at home:
Often, the symptoms of laryngitis can be addressed by the patient at home.
A few of these home treatments:
1) Avoid irritants such as smoking, hot beverages, alcohol, and spicy foods.
2) Rest–resting your voice box as much as possible will help heal this irritation. Avoid clearing your throat and excessive coughing when you can.
3) Drink plenty of water.
4) Wash your hands and avoid contact with those who are sick.
When should I see a doctor?
While most cases of laryngitis heal with time, some require medical attention.
You should contact a specialist if you:
-Have trouble breathing or shortness of breath
-Have a fever that is getting worse or won’t go away
-Have pain that is getting worse or won’t go away
-Cough/spit up blood
-Have persistent hoarseness
Note: Persistent hoarseness even in the absence of pain may indicate a more serious medical issue.
What are some more treatment options?
Most cases of laryngitis will heal on their own with vocal rest and avoidance of irritants. However, viral and bacterial infections have the potential to spread and may need to be treated with antibiotic or antiviral therapy.
Laryngitis associated with acid reflux may be treated with proton-pump inhibitor medications, such as omeprazole.
Persistent laryngitis may indicate an underlying medical issue. Here, your doctor may schedule you for an endoscopy procedure in order to better view your throat and vocal cords.
How can our Dream Team help?
UTHSC ENT’s Dream Team provides world class treatment in your hometown. No one is better suited to address your laryngitis than our renowned Voice Box Doctor, Sandra Stinnett M.D.
If you have any issue with your voice, Dr. Stinnett should be your first call!