Laryngitis can be very uncomfortable and inconvenient, but the good news is that it’s rarely a sign of anything serious. Although the symptoms will usually clear up in a week or two, there are also some useful home remedies that can soothe your throat.
What is Laryngitis?
Laryngitis happens when the larynx or vocal cords become swollen or irritated. You might develop laryngitis if you have been using your voice too much or when you have an infection. Laryngitis often appears after you’ve had a cold or the flu, but it can also be caused by throat infections, persistent coughing, allergies or by chronic acid reflux damaging your throat.
Symptoms of Laryngitis
The symptoms of laryngitis usually appear suddenly, although you may have already had other symptoms if it happens after a cold or infection. Laryngitis tends to get worse over the first few days and then improves. You should be completely better within a fortnight.
- Symptoms of laryngitis may include:
- Hoarseness or a croaky voice
- Losing your voice (sometimes completely)
- Sore throat
- Coughing or needing to clear your throat a lot
- Swollen glands in your throat
You may also have other symptoms of infection if your laryngitis is the result of a cold or other illness.
Treatments for Laryngitis
You won’t usually need any special treatment for laryngitis as the symptoms should go away by themselves. However, you should see a doctor if your symptoms aren’t improving or they last longer than a couple of weeks.
The best treatments for laryngitis are simple home remedies to rest and soothe your throat:
- Avoid speaking as much as possible, even whispering
- Drink lots of fluids, especially warm drinks that will soothe your throat
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, which can be dehydrating
- Gargle with warm salty water to ease your symptoms
- Use a humidifier to prevent your throat drying out (or simply place bowls of water around the room to moisten the air)
- Avoid smoky or dusty atmospheres that will irritate your voice
You might also want to take a painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve the swelling and reduce pain. Some people find that sucking on a throat lozenge or boiled sweet can also be very soothing for a sore throat.
When to See a Doctor About Laryngitis?
You don’t usually need to see a doctor about laryngitis, but it’s a good idea to seek help if your symptoms aren’t improving, last longer than two weeks, or keep coming back. You should also see a doctor if the symptoms are so bad that it’s too painful or difficult to swallow, especially if this means that you’re having trouble staying hydrated.
Although laryngitis isn’t usually harmful, it’s important to get checked out if your symptoms are severe or persistent as they could be a sign of something more serious. It’s also important to see an ENT specialist if you’re often suffering from laryngitis or other throat symptoms as there could be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed to prevent further problems.