written by: Laura Latzko
• edited by: dianahardin
• updated: 2/28/2011
Laryngitis is a type of inflammatory condition that affects the larynx, or the voice box. Patients may wonder how to get rid of laryngitis when they have a viral or bacterial infection, but they can often use home remedies. Learn more about how to get rid of laryngitis.
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Laryngitis occurs when the larynx, the portion of the body that holds the vocal cords and allows people to speak, becomes inflamed. The swelling in the larynx causes the body to have a difficult time producing sounds, which in turn leads to the loss of voice. When someone has laryngitis, they may only be able to speak in a low, hoarse voice or they could be unable to speak in a voice loud enough to be heard by others.
Anyone can develop laryngitis as a result of an infection, exposure to harmful chemicals, overuse of the voice, cigarette smoke, cancer, a stroke or chronic alcohol use. Viral infections tend to be the most common causes of laryngitis. People with laryngitis often develop other symptoms, such as a sore throat, a cough, a fever or problems swallowing. If their symptoms persist for three weeks or more, it is a sign of chronic laryngitis. Treating laryngitis can sometimes be difficult if someone smokes, develops a chronic respiratory infection or regularly uses their voice to yell or sing.
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People with laryngitis often need to be treated so that they can use their voices. Not being able to speak in a loud enough voice could interfere with their work or their personal lives. This is especially true for people who sing professionally. Patients often need to get the causes of laryngitis treated because they could lead to worse conditions. For example, people with colds could develop pneumonia or bronchitis if their infections are not treated. By treating infections, doctors are often able to help patients to get over laryngitis. If they develop a chronic form of laryngitis, people may need to see a specialist to get tested for a more serious condition, such as cancer.
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People often do not have to go to the doctor to get treatment for mild forms of laryngitis. They can often treat laryngitis by resting their voice, which means they should refrain from talking and yelling until their voice improves. Using a humidifier in their bedrooms and other rooms in their homes and drinking large amounts of water can also help. If patients have viral or bacterial infections, they will also likely want to get more sleep than usual to help their bodies to heal. If they smoke, they should not smoke while they have laryngitis; they will want to stop smoking cigarettes and avoid secondhand smoke to keep from getting laryngitis again. Other ways how to get rid of laryngitis including using eucalyptus leaves or peppermint in tea or other drinks; sucking on lozenges or gargling salt water to help reduce or get rid of laryngitis and accompanying symptoms, such as a sore throat, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
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People may want to take aspirin or ibuprofen if they experience pain as a result of an infection accompanying laryngitis. They should not have certain medications, such as decongestants, because they could worsen their condition if they have laryngitis, according to the Mayo Clinic (See Reference 3). If they have laryngitis caused by a bacterial infection, their doctors will likely prescribe antibiotics. These types of medications will not work for viral infections. In certain cases, such as if people sing professionally, doctors will give patients corticosteroids to decrease the amount of swelling in their vocal cords. Sometimes physicians give corticosteroids to children with coup, a viral respiratory infection that can cause them to have trouble breathing or to develop a cough that resembles a bark.
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People can keep from developing laryngitis by living a healthy lifestyle. This means drinking plenty of fluids, especially water; exercising for 30 minutes a day or longer; eating a well-balanced diet that includes fruit, vegetables and whole-grain products; washing their hands regularly, especially when they are around sick individuals; getting a regular amount of sleep each night; avoiding harmful chemicals and getting their immunizations when needed. By living a healthier lifestyle, they can avoid getting infections that lead to laryngitis. Singers need to regularly warm up their voice and do vocal exercises so that they do not strain their voices, which can lead to laryngitis.