Laryngitis is the inflammation of the larynx or voice box which contains the vocal cords, causing it to be irritated and swollen.
When the vocal cords are swollen, the sound produced by the air passing through them becomes distorted. The sound of the voice becomes hoarse as a result and in some cases, the voice can even become undetectable.
It can be caused either by a respiratory infection, such as a cold, bronchitis or sinusitis; exposure to irritating substances – cigarette smoke, alcohol, stomach acid or harmful chemicals; and excessive singing, shouting and talking.
Laryngitis is preventable if every person knows how to take care of their voices. Keeping oneself healthy to fight off viral infections that cause colds, sinusitis and bacterial infections as well as not overusing one’s voice by constant yelling and not engaging in activities that cause vocal strain, can all contribute to the prevention of acute laryngitis that usually leads to chronic laryngitis.
Being aware of the risk factors will also help you stay away from bad habits that lead to this disease.
Smoking can cause irritation of the vocal cords. Cigarette and tobacco smoke are the common culprits but all kinds of smoke must be avoided, especially second hand smoke or burning leaves. Inhaled irritants, like chemical fumes and allergens can cause chronic laryngitis.
Excessive alcohol use can drain the body of water causing the throat to be dry. Caffeine can also make you lose more body water than usual.
Both can lessen the amount of total body water. It is advisable to drink plenty of liquid as fluids keep the mucus in the throat thin and easy to clear.
Stomach acid can go into the throat and esophagus and cause acid reflux, heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Spicy food is one of the number one culprits of this. Stomach acid is one of the causes of chronic laryngitis.
Not including a variety of healthy foods in their daily intake can make people prone to chronic laryngitis. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains have very useful vitamins such as vitamins A,E and C. These vitamins are very important for overall health and they keep mucous membranes in the throat healthier.
Clearing the throat does more harm than good. It causes the throat to secrete more mucus and it becomes more irritated. Doing it will only make the person want to clear his throat again. This also causes an abnormal vibration on the vocal cords and the strain can increase swelling.
Upper respiratory infections and colds are highly contagious and with any illness, its the throat that manifests symptoms of infection first.
It is safe to stay away from crowded places and it is advisable to wash hands often.
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