The laryngitis, known in the jargon as laryngitis, is an inflammation of the laryngeal mucosa. The larynx is located at the entrance of the trachea and ensures with its vocal folds that man can speak. There is a distinction between an acute and a chronic, that is longer-lasting, form of laryngitis.
Acute laryngitis is common in cold seasons as part of a cold. The inflammation usually migrates from the nasopharynx into the neck, more rarely, it can also ascend from the bronchi or trachea. The typical symptom of laryngitis is hoarseness, which is often accompanied by a feeling of dryness in the throat and a coughing sensation.
Causes of laryngitis
Viruses are usually the cause of laryngitis, but may be accompanied by an accompanying bacterial infection that aggravates the symptoms. Rarely are purely bacterially caused laryngeal inflammations.
Even very cold, warm or dry air or a sudden strong voice load such as screaming can irritate the mucous membrane and lead to an inflammatory reaction. In addition, smoking cigarettes is a common cause of laryngitis.
If viruses or bacteria are the trigger, the laryngitis can be contagious. Most of the pathogens are also in the nasopharynx and are therefore easier to transfer. Coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose and talking increases the risk of infection, it is called a "droplet infection". Particularly infectious is the laryngitis for smokers or people with already irritated mucous membrane.
If there is no improvement in acute laryngitis or longer-lasting symptoms, this is called chronic laryngitis. This form often develops due to prolonged exposure to mucous membrane irritants such as nicotine or pollutants and industrial emissions.
People with chronic inflammation in the paranasal sinuses or bronchi are also at risk of developing chronic, advanced laryngitis. Singers, too, suffer occasionally from chronic laryngitis due to persistent excessive strain on their voice.
Symptoms of laryngitis
The typical symptoms of laryngitis are hoarseness, barking cough and the feeling of having a "lump" in the throat.
In acute laryngitis, the following symptoms occur:
- The mucous membrane of the larynx swells, which makes breathing difficult.
- Limited mobility of the vocal folds leads to hoarseness.
- Sufferers usually suffer from other common symptoms of an infection such as severe sore throat and difficulty swallowing and sometimes fever.
- In rare cases, the mucous membrane may swell so much that there is severe shortness of breath. Then you should definitely visit a doctor.
In chronic laryngitis, symptoms include a less resilient voice and a lower pitch.
When to the doctor?
If it comes to the coughing up of green mucus or even blood or other very strong symptoms, a doctor's visit is essential. Hoarseness lasting more than three weeks should also be examined by the doctor, as other causes such as a malignant disease of the larynx (laryngeal cancer) can cause a prolonged hoarseness.
Laryngitis in children
In children, complaints of the larynx are often more serious, since the larynx is still very small and swelling leads faster to respiratory distress. Viral inflammation is called pseudo-squamous, which is typically found in infants and children between six months and three years.
In the evening or at night, a barking, convulsive cough occurs, the children are hoarse and get a strong shortness of breath especially when inhaling. Here, the reassurance of the child is of enormous importance, because aggravated by excitement and panic symptoms significantly. The best way to go with his child in the bathroom and opens the faucet, so as to moisten the air and make the child's breathing easier again.
Most of the course is harmless, but it can come to such a severe shortness of breath that due to the suffocation of the child necessarily a doctor must be brought to the rescue, then the child cortisone, usually in the form of a suppository, administered and so a swelling of the mucosa reached. Intubation and thus short-term artificial respiration is very rarely required.
Epiglottitis: Inflammation of the epiglottis
A much worse but rarer form of laryngitis is the bacterial inflammation of the epiglottis, which in technical terms is called epiglottitis. However, this form has become much rarer due to the vaccination of children against Haemophilus influenza B.
It is a very severe disease with high fever and severe pain when swallowing. Especially children between the ages of two and eight are affected, they have a "kaffir" language and can barely swallow their saliva so that it often runs out of the mouth.
In addition to the strikingly acute and rapidly appearing symptoms, the epiglottitis can be distinguished from the pseudo-croup primarily because there is no cough or hoarseness in the former. The mucous membrane of the epiglottis swells so quickly that breathing is almost completely impossible. This condition can be life-threatening if not immediately a doctor ensures respiration by cortisone or intubation.
With proper treatment, however, the inflammation stops quickly and leaves no further damage.
Laryngitis: home remedies
Since the laryngitis is usually viral, no specific treatment is possible. But there are home remedies that can alleviate the symptoms.
- Patients should be careful not to whisper or whisper or clear their throat as any mechanical stress can cause permanent voice damage.
- Water or tea are the cheapest home remedy. Drinking a lot helps to keep the mucous membranes moist.
- Smokers are strongly recommended to abstain from smoking.
- Cold, warm or dry air (for example in air-conditioned rooms) should be avoided. For a sufficient humidity in the air, damp cloths over the heater or small water bowls on the windowsill can provide.
- Lollies relieve the symptoms, they moisturize the air and stimulate the salivation.
- A very good home remedy are steam inhalations, for example with salt water (Emser brine) or tea, which have a pleasant effect.
- A balanced and healthy diet with fruits and vegetables and regular exercise in the fresh air strengthen the immune system.
Laryngitis: the right treatment
Nevertheless, the home remedies described can not always replace a doctor's visit. In severe respiratory distress, the short-term use of cortisone may be necessary until the mucous membrane is swollen and sufficient air flow is ensured. If the medication is insufficient, the patient may occasionally need to be artificially ventilated via a tube in the trachea (intubation).
If bacteria are involved, an antibiotic must be taken.
A tormenting cough can be alleviated by taking a cough suppressant during the night. During the day, expectorant medications can help with coughing up. Paracetamol or ibuprofen are suitable for relieving pain and fever.
Homeopathy also offers a variety of options for treating the symptoms of laryngitis. Primarily Causticum, Phosphorus, Arum triphyllum or Drosera are recommended in low potencies.
Duration of treatment
Most acute acute laryngitis with a reasonable treatment after a period of about ten days heals without consequences. Chronic laryngitis, on the other hand, is more persistent, but in principle a complete regression of symptoms is also possible here.
However, if causes such as smoking are not adjusted sustainably, functional limitations often remain. In the worst case, the cells of the laryngeal mucosa may degenerate and develop a malignant tumor. Smoking and alcohol increase the risk of developing throat cancer.