Learn­ing About Laryn­gi­tiss

Health Writer Louise Atkin­son looks at this con­di­tion.

The People's Friend - - Health -

WHAT should you do when you lose your voice? A croaky voice is a com­mon and un­wel­come symp­tom of many win­ter coughs and colds.

The prob­lem very of­ten passes, soothed by hot drinks and a rest from too much talk­ing. I asked Dr Luke Powles, As­so­ciate Clin­i­cal Direc­tor at Bupa UK, for advice about when a sim­ple croaky voice might be laryn­gi­tis, and when to seek med­i­cal help.

He told me laryn­gi­tis is the med­i­cal term for in­flam­ma­tion of the lar­ynx (the voice box).

“It is usu­ally caused by an in­fec­tion from cold or flu viruses, acid re­flux or al­ler­gies to things like dust and fumes,” he said.

A lost voice nor­mally comes in a bun­dle with other symp­toms, which can in­clude a sore throat, an ir­ri­tat­ing cough and pos­si­bly a mild fever, too.

Don’t be sur­prised if you have a headache, swollen glands, a runny nose and a gen­eral tired and achy feel­ing as well.

Dr Powles says most cases of laryn­gi­tis will clear up within a week and don’t ne­ces­si­tate a GP ap­point­ment.

“But if you are hav­ing dif­fi­culty breath­ing (breath­ing rapidly, short­ness of breath or noisy breath­ing)

If your prob­lems per­sist, see your GP

then do seek ur­gent med­i­cal at­ten­tion,” he warns.

For most of us, a phar­ma­cist can help with over-the-counter reme­dies, such as parac­eta­mol and cough syrup.

You can speed your re­cov­ery by avoid­ing smok­ing and smoky en­vi­ron­ments, and drink­ing plenty of flu­ids. Gar­gling with warm salty wa­ter or suck­ing throat lozenges may help to soothe your throat.

Rest­ing your voice is im­por­tant, too, but don’t switch to whis­per­ing in­stead of talk­ing – it is ac­tu­ally more painful, as it makes the lar­ynx work harder.

“If your symp­toms don’t im­prove af­ter two weeks, they keep com­ing back, or you’re hav­ing dif­fi­culty swal­low­ing, do see your GP,”

Dr Powles ad­vises.

“A GP can help ex­plore if there is any un­der­ly­ing cause for your symp­toms and can ad­vise on suit­able treat­ment for you if needed.”

You might be given a throat swab or blood test to check for pos­si­ble vi­ral, bac­te­rial or fun­gal in­fec­tion, and will pos­si­bly be pre­scribed an­tibi­otics (if your doc­tor thinks you have a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion).

In ex­treme re­peat­ing cases, you might be re­ferred to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) spe­cial­ist.

Some chronic cases of laryn­gi­tis are trig­gered by a fun­gal in­fec­tion such as thrush, which can strike if your im­mune sys­tem is weak­ened.

It can also be ex­ac­er­bated by a com­mon con­di­tion called GORD (gas­tro-oe­sophageal re­flux dis­ease), when acid rises up from your stom­ach into your throat to ir­ri­tate your lar­ynx. This can be treated with med­i­ca­tion to re­duce the amount of acid your stom­ach pro­duces. ■

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