Laryngitis- Causes, signs and symptoms, treatment and prevention

Laryngitis

Laryngitis refers to the swelling or inflammation of your larynx (voice box) from irritation, overuse, or infection. The vocal cords which produce sound are inside the voice box or larynx. The larynx consists of two mucous membrane folds that cover cartilage and muscle. Normally, the vocal cords should open and close, which means they vibrate without problems, forming sounds through their vibration and movement. 

However, due to the condition known as laryngitis, they become irritated and often become inflamed, distorting the voice produced due to the air passing over them. As per this condition, it results in hoarseness of the voice. Sometimes the voice becomes totally undetectable. This triggers the question in your mind- “is laryngitis contagious?”

is laryngitis contagious

Facts – Is laryngitis contagious? 

Most of the time, laryngitis doesn’t spread. This question keeps recurring – is laryngitis contagious? The answer is mostly ‘no’, but if there is a fever, the virus can spread and affect others. It is potentially contagious if a bacterial or fungal infection causes laryngitis. This kind of spread of disease is found rarely.If the following reasons cause laryngitis, it may not spread to others:

  • Exposure to chemical pollutants or irritants
  • Strenuous singing or talking (overuse of your larynx)
  • Serious underlying health issues, for example, throat cancer
  • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Changes in the shape of vocal cords as you age can cause persistent sore throats and hoarseness.

is laryngitis contagious

Causes of Laryngitis

  • Careful study of the patient’s history may involve a recent exposure to viral illness such as cold or flu, which might have developed into laryngitis. Due to these symptoms, we do get perplexed to know-is laryngitis contagious?
  • Exposure to different chemicals might have caused irritation of the vocal cords.
  • Smoking.
  • Straining of voice due to frequent talking or singing.
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Bacterial infections
  • Acid reflux
  • Long-term irritant exposure
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Being around smokers or smoking yourself
  • Low-grade yeast infections that frequent asthma inhaler use causes
  • Vocal cord paralysis, cancer, or changes in the shape of your vocal cord as you age can cause persistent sore throats and hoarseness.

Types of Laryngitis

Laryngitis is of two different kinds: acute and chronic.

Acute laryngitis:

It is short-lived and can last for up to two weeks.

Chronic laryngitis:

It is an infection that lasts for more than two weeks, and in some cases, for months.

The major question of concern is – is laryngitis contagious? Laryngitis is mostly not a serious matter of concern, but in the case of persistent hoarseness, it can signal something grave.

is laryngitis contagious

How to identify laryngitis?

 It is often known that this infection is due to bronchitis or flu, or cold. The various symptoms and signs include the following:

  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat
  • A dry cough
  • A low-grade fever
  • Swollen glands
  • A constant urge to clear your throat
  • Trouble speaking
  • Frequently using our voice, like in the case of a singer or public speaker, or otherwise due to smoking or being more prone to flu or bronchitis or cold, may trigger laryngitis.

Diagnosis

Based on the symptoms when you suspect- ‘is laryngitis contagious?’  You need to visit the doctor to examine your vocal cords and listen to your voice if you have chronic hoarseness. You can even be referred to another professional like an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

The below are the techniques to diagnose laryngitis:

Biopsy:

The tissue sample is taken for examination under a microscope.

Laryngoscopy:

When the patients have a hard time tolerating the symptoms and living along with other family members, we do encounter the questions like: is laryngitis contagious? Is social distance needed? How to prevent its spread? At this time it is better to go to the doctor for the proper diagnosis. Using an endoscope (which consists of a flexible thin tube with a small torch and camera attached to it), the doctor can examine the vocal cords. A small mirror and a light can be used to view the back of the throat. The fiber optic laryngoscopy is done with an endoscope that is inserted through the nose or mouth to watch the motion of the vocal cords when the patient talks. They’ll examine your throat to identify what’s causing your laryngitis. The cause of your laryngitis will determine the treatment. With the result of this test, the question- “is laryngitis contagious” can be determined evidently.

Things to remember before you prepare for a laryngitis appointment.

  • Note down the recent important information about life’s changes or major stresses.
  • Noting down all kinds of symptoms that may or may not be a sign /cause of laryngitis.
  • Bring the list of the medicines included in the daily routine.
  • Note down all the questions that need to be clarified by the doctor.
  • Bringing a friend or relative along to remember any points in case of forgetting it.

How to Treat Laryngitis?

  • Take a break from speaking or singing to rest the vocal cords until the inflammation is gone. After the condition subsides, preventing talking is better as it may flare up and worsen the situation. 
  • Drinking water and fluids at regular intervals and using a humidifier can help maintain the air’s moisture and help avoid irritable and scratchy throat.
  • Alcohol and products containing caffeine and other allergens should be avoided. Sucking lozenges can help keep the throat moist.
  • It’s a common suspicion especially when kids are around ‘is laryngitis contagious?, will it spread to kids?’ It’s always better to take help of antibiotics. Antibiotics can help to eradicate infections, especially infectious laryngitis. Sometimes viral laryngitis goes away over time.
  • In the case of chronic laryngitis treatment, the doctor aims at treating the underlying disease and may prescribe a pain reliever or antihistamines to relieve it. Sometimses, due to stomach acid reflux, laryngitis is the cause that can be addressed through a different therapy by the specialist.
  • Corticosteroids help in the reduction of inflammation in the vocal cords. But this is a treatment administered by a doctor only on an emergency basis.
  • Chronic laryngitis, where the vocal cords are totally paralyzed, suggests surgery to restructure the vocal cords. This is an outpatient procedure.

Is it contagious? If so, how to prevent it?

  • Healthy living habits like washing hands and avoiding contact with people who have a cold or flu will reduce the chances of contracting this disease.
  • Take breaks consistently while speaking or singing, especially if you depend on it for earning. 
  • Avoid dusty areas and exposure to harmful chemicals. 
  • Stop smoking.
  • Treating stomach acid reflux problem.

Food to be taken for it

  1. Eggs. Eggs are packed with nutrients, and it is easy to swallow.
  2. Chicken soup. Soup is easier to eat, and the contents like broth and boiled vegetables, noodles, and shredded chicken make it easy to chew. It helps relieve pain also.
  3. Ice-creams and ice water sometimes are known to soothe the irritation.
  4. Tea with lemon juice and honey helps to calm the symptoms.
  5. A warm cup of tea also helps relieve pain and break up mucus.

Finally, stay away from these if you have Laryngitis

  1. Too much lemon intake may irritate the larynx due to its acidic nature.
  2. Crunchy and dry, rough food can irritate the larynx.
  3. Raw foods should be avoided. It’s better to boil.
  4. Spices and spicy foods should be avoided as they can cause irritation.

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