Laryngitis: Diagnosis and Management

Laryngitis: Diagnosis and Management


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Laryngitis: Diagnosis and Management

Laryngitis or inflammation of larynx (including vocal cords) generally occurs due to infection, overuse of vocal cords or irritation. Diagnosis of laryngitis is usually not very difficult in most cases, because, symptoms (such as hoarseness of voice) are highly suggestive of the disease. An otorhinolaryngologist or ear, nose, throat disease specialist can easily diagnose the disease. However, sometimes a few diagnostic tests such as laryngoscopy may be done to confirm diagnosis and to rule out cancer, biopsy may also be asked by your otorhinolaryngologist.

Laryngoscopy:

In laryngoscopy, your doctor visually examines (sees what is there in larynx) your vocal cords by using a light and a tiny mirror to look into the back of your throat/larynx. Sometime your doctor may use fiber-optic laryngoscope for performing laryngoscopy, using a thin, fiber-optic flexible tube (endoscope) with a tiny camera and light through your nose or mouth and into the back of your throat. Your doctor than ask you to speak and watch the motion of vocal cords. Laryngoscopy can confirm diagnosis of laryngitis and help in proper management of the condition.

Biopsy:

Sometimes your doctor may suggest biopsy, if he/she sees some suspicious area in laryx while doing laryngoscopy to rule out cancer.

Management of laryngitis:

Acute laryngitis often gets better on its own within a week and may not need any treatment. Self care measures may be sufficient. However, if acute laryngitis does not get better within a week or if it is chronic laryngitis, active treatment is required. The important part of management include treatment of underlying cause such as GERD, smoking, excess alcohol intake, chronic and overuse of vocal cords etc.

Medications for treatment of laryngitis include:

Antibiotics:

Most commonly laryngitis is caused by virus; hence antibiotics will be of no use in most cases. However, if laryngitis is caused by bacteria a suitable antibiotic course is required.

Corticosteroids:

Corticosteroids can help in reducing inflammation of laryngitis. This treatment is usually used in case where urgent treatment of laryngitis is required to bring voice back to normal, such as for delivering a speech or presentation or for singing.

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