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 Medical Self-Care: Laryngitis 
American Institute for Preventive Medicine ©
Disc jockeys get laryngitis. So do actors, politicians, and others who talk for hours. But ordinary people who overuse their voices get laryngitis, too. Perhaps you cheer too loudly and too often at a basketball game. Or perhaps you lose your voice for no apparent reason.

Air pollution, or spending an evening in a smoky room can also irritate the larynx (voice box) and cause laryngitis. Infections, too, can inflame the larynx. When your larynx is irritated or inflamed, your voice becomes hoarse, husky, and weak. Sometimes laryngitis is painless, but you may get a sore throat, fever or dry cough, a tickling sensation in the back of the throat, or have trouble swallowing. Smoking, drinking alcohol, breathing cold air, and continuing to use already-distressed vocal cords can make the situation worse.

Self-Care Tips
  • Don't talk if you don't need to. Use a note pad and pencil to write notes instead. If you must speak, do so softly, but don't whisper.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier in your home, especially in your bedroom.
  • Drink lots of warm drinks. Tea with honey is good.
  • Gargle with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt in 1/2 cup of water).
  • Take a hot shower or steam bath.
  • Don't smoke. Stay away from places with smoky air.
  • Suck on cough drops, throat lozenges or hard candy. (Do not give to children under age 5).
  • Take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. [Note: Do not give aspirin or any medication containing salicylates to anyone 19 years of age or younger, unless directed by a physician, due to its association with Reye's Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.]

Questions to Ask
Is it hard for you to breathe or swallow or are you coughing up blood? Yes: Seek Emergency Care
Do you have a high fever or are you coughing up blood or yellow-green sputum? Yes: Call Doctor
Do you have hard, swollen lymph glands in your neck or do you feel like you have a "lump in your throat"? Yes: Call Doctor
Has the hoarseness lasted more than a week in a child or more than a month in an adult? Yes: Call Doctor
Do you have two or more of these problems?
  • Bothered by the cold more than usual
  • Dry hair or skin
  • Gaining weight for no reason
  • Feeling very tired for no reason
Yes: Call Doctor
Provide Self-Care

Healthy Self: The Guide to Self-Care and Wise Consumerism
© American Institute for Preventive Medicine
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