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Laryngitis

Immune | June 18, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Immune

Laryngitis

Loosing your voice altogether or having a hoarse voice are symptoms characteristic of laryngitis. Inside the larynx are your vocal cords which are vital to the processes of breathing, swallowing and talking. The vocal cords consist of two small folds of mucous membrane covering cartilage and muscle that vibrate to produce sound.

Symptoms of laryngitisWhen you have laryngitis, your vocal cords become inflamed or irritated. This swelling causes distortion of the sounds produced by air passing over them—resulting in a hoarse or undetectable voice. Most cases of laryngitis are acute and clear up in a short period of time. However, chronic laryngitis is long-lasting and may signify a more serious underlying medical condition.

Symptoms of laryngitis

Laryngitis can cause a wide-range of symptoms in adults, including:

  • Weak voice or voice loss
  • Hoarseness
  • Tickling sensation and rawness of your throat
  • Sore throat
  • Dry throat
  • Dry cough

Laryngitis causes

In acute laryngitis the most common culprits are respiratory viruses such as those that result in a cold. Other common causes are things that result in vocal strain such as yelling or singing. Usually the symptoms of acute laryngitis are temporary and only last for a few weeks.
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Chronic laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx that is present for more than 3 weeks. Symptoms are generally caused by exposure to irritants over a period of time. In chronic laryngitis growths on the vocal cords such as polyps or nodules can also occur.

Common reasons why you can get chronic laryngitis include:

  • Chronic sinusitis, bronchitis or rhinitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Using inhaled steroids
  • High alcohol intake
  • Inhaled irritants, such as cigarette smoke, chemical fumes, air pollution or allergens
  • Continued vocal strain from speaking, singing or shouting

Less common causes include infection with certain parasites, bacteria or fungus.

Natural therapies for laryngitis

In most cases laryngitis will improve with simple home-care strategies. In chronic laryngitis identifying the underlying cause will help to resolve the ongoing inflammation.

Avoid vocal strain

If you are already experiencing laryngitis, it’s important to rest your voice as much as possible.

Natural therapies for laryngitisThis involves avoiding talking or singing too loudly or for too long. 

If you need to speak in front of a large group, try a microphone or megaphone to help project your voice without causing additional strain. 

Whispering and clearing your throat irritates the larynx, so be sure to avoid these too.

Chemical irritants

Cigarette smoke is a common chemical irritant that can cause or worsen the symptoms of laryngitis. If you suffer from chronic laryngitis, consider quitting. If you’re exposed to inhaled chemicals around the home or in the workplace protect yourself by wearing a mask or consider avoiding these chemicals altogether. If pollens in the air, perfumes or dust irritate your larynx try to avoid your exposure to potential environmental allergens.

Warm beverages

Keep your fluid levels up to thin mucous in the throat and avoid dehydration. Many people with laryngitis find sipping on warm drinks helpful to relieve symptoms. You could try freshly grated ginger, lemon and manuka honey, warm broths or soups. Alternatively, lozenges that contain zinc, vitamin C and elderberry may be soothing to the throat while at the same time helping to fight off a viral infection.

GERD

If you experience chronic laryngitis due to acid reflux, consider making a change to your diet and lifestyle. This may involve avoiding large or spicy meals, caffeine, takeaway meals, fatty foods, alcohol, carbonated drinks and chocolate. Natural therapies that assist with GERD include slippery elm powder, turmeric, licorice, and meadowsweet.

Herbal medicine

Many herbs that are traditionally used to treat colds and flu may be of assistance in treating acute laryngitis. This includes echinacea, propolis, andrographis and thyme.

Other herbs which are traditionally used for inflammation in the respiratory tract include marshmallow, licorice, ginger and turmeric.

The African herb pelargonium has also been shown in double-blind placebo-controlled studies to be an effective nonantibiotic treatment of acute bronchitis and sinusitis.

Cod liver oil

Certain nutrients such as vitamin A and omega-3 are important to maintain the health of our mucous membranes, such as those located in our larynx. Vitamin A and omega-3 are naturally found in cod liver oil but can be supplemented separately. These nutrients contain strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to reduce inflammation and protect our body from damage and infection. Another benefit of cod liver oil is that it contains vitamin D which helps in autoimmune disorders (that is if you are experiencing allergies), while also boosting general immunity to fight off respiratory infections.

Antioxidant therapy

The larynx, being continually exposed to oxygen and irritants that promote inflammation, is a prime candidate for oxidative stress. Acid reflux, air pollution, toxic fumes, and allergens are all agents that promote laryngeal inflammation.

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are a wide variety of unstable molecules that cause tissue damage, which is known as oxidative stress. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant which is synthesized from l -cysteine, l -glutamic acid, and glycine, and has multiple functions, including protecting cells from ROS.

The larynx naturally contains high levels of glutathione and other antioxidants (superoxide dismutase) as protection against inflammation and damage. Glutathione may therefore be helpful to treat acute and chronic vocal fold inflammation. As glutathione is poorly absorbed, N- acetyl cysteine, undenatured whey protein, and α-lipoic acid could be used as alternatives as they can increase glutathione levels.

Voice patients receiving glutathione may experience:

  • Less mucous congestion in the larynx
  • Increased vocal range and stamina
  • A reduction in burning sensation

Supplements containing N-acetyl cysteine and glutathione are practitioner only and require a prescription from a registered health professional.

Summing up

  • Laryngitis is inflammation in the vocal cords which leads to a hoarse voice
  • Acute laryngitis is usually caused by vocal strain or a virus and is self-limiting
  • Chronic laryngitis is laryngeal inflammation that persists for more than 3 weeks and can be due to ongoing vocal strain, allergies, reflux or throat irritation

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References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/laryngitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20374262

Dossett ML, et al. Integrative Medicine for Gastrointestinal Disease. Prim Care. 2017 Jun;44(2):265-280

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28501229

Mathes ABellanger R. Herbs and other dietary supplements: current regulations and recommendations for use to maintain health in the management of the common cold or other related infectious respiratory illnesses. J Pharm Pract. 2010 Apr;23(2):117-27

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21507804

Asher BF. Complementary and integrative treatments: the voice. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2013 Jun;46(3):437-45

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23764820

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