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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Laryngitis

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Question:  I've had troubles speaking for the past few months. Very strained voice, voice breaks, not enough breath to finish sentence, chest hurts if speak to much, voice quavers, breathy. Went to ear/nose/throat- just said to rest voice but its not getting any better. Got puffer, doesn't work. Could it be spasmodic dysphonia? Any advice appreciated.

Answer:  Did they look at your vocal cords? If not they should. Also, if this is ok, what do pulmonary function tests show? Tag on a flow volume loop to ensure that you don't have some upper airway obstruction.

Question:  I am a professional singer who is currently experiencing hoarseness and laryngitis. I have also experienced a partial loss of vocal range. This condition has persisted for the last two months. In an effort to resolve the problem I met with a physician who indicated that he wasn't sure what I had and indicated that he didn't really know much about vocal problems. He recently prescribed a nasal steroid, Hismonal and an antibiotic. For the last several days I have spoken/sung very little but am still experiencing these problems (laryngitis like effect and loss of vocal range). I have a history of allergies and have been experiencing significant throat drainage for quite some time. I would like very much to have advice as to what I can do to regain my vocal health

Answer: I agree with your physician to start. However, there are several other things to try. First ensure that you are not having acid reflux, which is a common cause of vocal cord irritation. If your problem persists a direct visualization will be necessary to ensure that you do not have polyps on your cords. Another adjunct to help the swelling would be gargling with warm salt water.

Question: Can laryngitis do permanent damage to the voice? What are some treatments for relief? My daughter (11 years old) has had no voice for 4 weeks with a very sore throat. The doctor put her on Biaxin for secondary bronchial infection which has been cleared up for one week now and we use a humidifier in her room. She drinks water constantly and sucks on cough drops and throat lozenges all day. She has not eaten solid foods for 4 weeks. She does not have a fever now. It started as a cold with a very bad sore throat. Is it OK for her to whisper?

Answer: Once this has lasted this long, an Ear/Nose/Throat Specialist needs to visualize her vocal cords. Whispering is OK.

Question: How long should laryngitis take to clear after sinusitis and bronchitis have resolved?

Answer: Like most other things the time to resolution depends on the cause of laryngitis. Usually laryngitis will clear about the same time or earlier than bronchitis or sinusitis if it is due to viral or bacterial causes. If it does not clear an investigation should be done which includes visualization of the cords by direct laryngoscope.
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