The larynx, or voice box, sits at the back of the throat above the windpipe. It contains the stretchy bands of tissue which form the vocal chords, as well as the epiglottis – the valve which covers the windpipe when we swallow to prevent foods or liquid
entering the lungs.
Various infections and disorders, including cancer, can affect the larynx however laryngitis is the most common.
There are two types of laryngitis – acute and chronic. Acute laryngitis is a sudden inflammation of the larynx caused by a viral infection or common cold. Over-using the voice – for example singing or yelling – or irritation from cigarette smoke can also cause the larynx to redden and swell.
Chronic laryngitis is a persistent hoarseness, almost always caused by smoking or voice abuse, such as frequent shouting. Prolonged exposure to air pollutants, such as dust, can also cause chronic laryngitis.
Symptoms of Laryngitis
- Loss of voice
Pain in the throat
Raw tenderness at the back of the throat
A constant urge to clear the throat
- Breathing difficulties
Laryngitis should be diagnosed by a doctor. The most common advice is resting
the voice, use of pain-killing medications, and if necessary, antibiotics to clear up
Steam inhalation is one of the most effective natural methods of helping relieve
the symptoms of laryngitis. It opens up the airways, allowing easier breathing,
and soothes the raw irritated passages of the throat until the inflammation subsides.
Quit smoking, or avoid being in smoky environments – cigarette smoke is one
of the major irritants to the larynx
In dusty environments wear protective masks if on industrial or building sites
Be gentle with your voice – don't shout or strain your voice unnecessarily for long periods. Professional singers sometimes find using steam therapy before a performance helps loosen the vocal chords and help protect against damage
Keep your immune system healthy with plenty of antioxidant vitamins such as Vitamin C to help the body fight off infection – particularly after a cold