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Scream Safe: Dealing with Hoarseness and Laryngitis
Dr Kumaresh Krishnamoorthy
How is hoarseness evaluated?
An otolaryngologist will obtain a thorough history of the hoarseness and your general health. Your doctor will usually look at the vocal folds with a mirror placed in the back of your throat. Occasionally, a very small lighted flexible scope (fiberoptic tube scope) may need to be passed through your nose in order to view your vocal folds. Videotaping the examination may also help with the analysis.

Recovery from laryngitis or inflammation of the larynx will be faster if you combine medications with the following measures:

  • Inhale steam: Fill a bowl with hot water, and then breathe the steam. Breathing in moist air from a hot shower also reduces the symptoms of laryngitis.
  • Rest your vocal cords: Refrain from speaking as much as possible to ease the irritation of your vocal cords. Do not sing or yell during the whole treatment process to quickly recover from the condition.
  • Drink plenty of water: Your throat will be dry if you have laryngitis, so drink plenty of water and other fluids to reduce dryness and prevent dehydration. Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages as they will only worsen your symptoms.
  • Treat the underlying cause: Acute laryngitis may become chronic if the underlying cause of the condition is not treated right away. Stop alcohol abuse and smoking.

How to prevent laryngitis

Laryngitis is usually not a serious problem, but its symptoms can be very irritating and frustrating. You need your voice every day to talk to people at work or at school, so losing it will have negative effects on your performance. The following tips are very effective in preventing the irritation and dryness of your vocal cords:

  • Keep yourself hydrated: Fluids keep your throat’s mucus thin, so it’s easier to clear. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Don’t yell or use your voice too much: Shouting in a rock concert is a lot of fun, but remember that it puts a lot of stress on your larynx, which may result in laryngitis the next morning.
  • Stop smoking: Aside from laryngitis, smoking causes lots of other illnesses that are more serious and harder to cure. Smoke irritates your larynx and dries your throat, which may eventually lead to chronic laryngitis. Stop smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke to reduce your risk.
  • Refrain from clearing your throat: Contrary to popular belief, clearing the throat does more harm than good. Instead of doing what it’s supposed to do, it actually

Dr Kumaresh Krishnamoorthy is Senior Consultant in ENT – Neurotology and Head & Neck Surgery, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore.

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