Viral laryngitis is a medical condition that causes inflammation of the vocal cords. This may cause fever, sore throat, or difficulty swallowing. Other symptoms may include a weak or hoarse-sounding voice. Since this condition is caused by a virus and not bacteria, antibiotics are not an effective treatment method. Treatment options for this condition may include resting the vocal cords, using sore throat lozenges, or taking over-the-counter pain medications.
The first symptom of viral laryngitis is often voice changes, such as the development of a hoarse-sounding voice. In some cases, the voice may become so weak that it is difficult or even impossible to speak. Fever and cough may be present in some patients. Some patients may feel as if there is a lump in the throat, causing frequent attempts at clearing the throat.
Diagnosis of viral laryngitis can generally be made at the doctor's office. A complete medical history will be taken, and then the doctor will look at the throat. The physical exam along with the medical history are usually all that is needed in order for the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.
Viral laryngitis typically disappears on its own without any specific medical treatment, although there are a variety of home treatment methods that may help to ease some of the symptoms. If the patient is a smoker, he will likely be advised to stop smoking, at least until symptoms have improved. Second-hand smoke may also aggravate the condition and make symptoms worse, so whenever possible the patient should stay away from places where people are smoking.
Resting the voice is very important during recovery from this condition so that no additional strain is placed on the vocal cords. Many people who have this condition may be tempted to whisper, thinking that this will help reduce stress on the vocal cords. Instead, this can actually cause symptoms to worsen. When it is absolutely necessary to speak, it is better to use a normal speaking voice than to whisper.
Artificial air conditioning should be avoided as much as possible while recovering from viral laryngitis. A cool-mist humidifier may help to relieve some symptoms. Inhaling steam from a hot shower or a bowl of hot water is often helpful as well. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen may be used to alleviate pain and fever associated with viral laryngitis, and throat lozenges or hard candy may help to keep the throat lubricated.