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Laryngitis, sometimes referred to as losing your voice, is a condition in which the voice box is inflamed. Irritation, infection, or overuse may cause this condition. This condition may only last for a short time, or it may last for a long period of time. Laryngitis is not serious in most cases, and is typically triggered by a vocal strain or temporary viral infection. There is treatment for laryngitis.
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There are things patients can do at home to help treat this condition. Using a humidifier helps to keep the air moist. Patients should rest their voice and make sure to get plenty of fluids. Moistening the throat with gargling salt water, sucking on lozenges and chewing gum may help. Patients should also avoid whispering and decongestants.
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In some cases, corticosteroids can help to decrease inflammation of the vocal cords. This treatment is only used in urgent circumstances, however, such as when you need to present an oral presentation or speech, or sing. If a toddler has croup-related laryngitis, corticosteroids may be used.
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As a treatment for laryngitis, antibiotics may be used in a small amount of cases. Since almost every case is viral, antibiotics are not often prescribed because an antibiotic is not effective against viruses. A bacterial infection is a rare cause of this condition, but when it is the cause, antibiotics may be helpful.
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Some patients may benefit from herbal remedies. It is important to know that herbs may cause side effects and drug interactions. Herbs that may be beneficial for laryngitis include eucalyptus, marshmallow, slippery elm, licorice, peppermint.
Drinking and gargling certain teas may be beneficial for some patients. Such teas include sage tea, blackberry tea, and chamomile tea.
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Few studies have been done to determine how effective homeopathic treatments are for laryngitis, but some patients report success with them. Like herbs, side effects and drug interactions are possible. Common homeopathic remedies include aconitum, argenticum, hepar sulphuricum, phosphorus, allium cepa, causticum, and kali bichronicum.
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If the patient has chronic laryngitis, his or her treatment will be focused on treating the underlying cause. Common underlying causes may include inhaled irritants, chronic sinusitis, habitually overusing the voice, acid reflux, excessive alcohol use and smoking. In less common cases, infections with certain parasites and fungal or bacterial infections may cause chronic laryngitis.
If the patient has chronic hoarseness, it may be due to old age-related vocal cord bowing or cancer. It may also result from vocal cord paralysis. Vocal cord paralysis may be caused by stroke, a lung tumor, injury or certain other health conditions.
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University of Maryland Medical Center. (2009). Laryngitis. Retrieved on February 28, 2011 from the University of Maryland Medical Center: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/laryngitis-000099.htm
NYU Medical Center. (2005). Laryngitis. Retrieved on February 28, 2011 from NYU Medical Center: http://www.med.nyu.edu/voicecenter/conditions/voice/laryngitis.html