Vocal cord inflammation is an inflammatory disease of the vocal cords or vocal folds. This usually occurs as a result of overexertion or an infection and manifests itself in hoarseness, frequent clearing of the throat and significant effort when speaking. In addition to radically protecting the voice, the inflammation can also be treated with medication.
What is vocal cord inflammation?
Physicians understand vocal cord inflammation as a noticeable and audible inflammation of the vocal cords. The vocal cords are located in the larynx and form part of the vocal folds. They consist of muscles and a layer of mucous membrane and can be opened or closed by us breathing in and out, speaking, singing or screaming. As a result, they are constantly on the move and are strongly challenged. For what is craniostenosis used for, please visit fun-wiki.com.
Inflammation of the vocal cords is particularly common in professional groups that naturally speak or sing a lot. But cold viruses can also contribute to an unpleasant inflammation. It is expressed by a permanent “lump in the throat” and hoarseness. If the voice is spared and, if necessary, supported with appropriate medication, the vocal cords can regenerate and can soon be used again as usual. However, if the strain remains high, nodules can form on the vocal cords, which can lead to chronic hoarseness.
The causes of vocal cord inflammation can be varied; in most cases, however, it can be traced back to two main causes. One of the most common reasons for the annoying hoarseness is the flu, which initially causes a sore throat. Coughing and the additional formation of mucus or pus puts a strain on the vocal cords and can lead to swelling and irritation, which ultimately manifests itself as inflammation.
Since the voice also changes with the smallest changes in the vocal folds, it is immediately clearly audible if the vocal cords have been affected. Diseases that require treatment, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, as well as measles and diphtheria, often cause inflammation of the vocal cords.
The second main reason for inflammatory changes in the vocal folds is constant overload from speaking, singing or shouting. Professional groups such as call center agents, singers, teachers or speakers are predestined for this. If cigarette consumption is added, the risk of vocal cord inflammation increases significantly.
An inflammation of the vocal cords is primarily expressed by hoarseness, which can vary in severity. It can range from a slightly hoarse voice to complete loss of voice. There is also the feeling of a constant foreign body in the throat (“lump”), which leads to frequent clearing of the throat.
The voice is much quieter than usual and speaking is generally difficult. A sore throat and fever can also occur. If the vocal cord inflammation is caused by another infectious disease, shortness of breath and coughing up purulent mucus or even blood can also occur.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
If there is a suspicion of vocal cord inflammation, the doctor treating you can confirm or refute it with the help of a laryngoscopy and/or a nasal endoscopy. The clearly audible hoarseness also helps the doctor to make a clear diagnosis. Basically, an inflammation of the vocal cords usually subsides on its own if the voice is spared and the underlying infection is treated if necessary.
If the voice continues to be used or if the disease spreads, the inflammation can become chronic. Under certain circumstances, this means a permanent loss of the usual speaking voice and a chronic hoarseness that can no longer be reversed. In addition, nodules can form on the vocal cords in this context.
Diagnosis & course of disease
Inflammation of the vocal cords does not always have to be treated by a doctor. If the symptoms occur as part of a flu-like infection, it is often sufficient to rest the voice and treat any sore throat and swallowing difficulties with home remedies and over-the-counter throat lozenges until the symptoms subside.
These include, for example, healing inhalations with essential oils. Cigarettes and spicy food should be avoided. However, an inflamed vocal fold can take several weeks to fully heal, so patience is required. Under no circumstances should you whisper, because this does not protect the voice, but puts additional demands on it. Patients should avoid speaking as much as possible and otherwise try to speak as normally as possible, regardless of hoarseness.
As a rule, vocal cord inflammation is harmless and subsides after two to three weeks at the latest without any long-lasting consequences. Sometimes, however, complications such as shortness of breath, pain or high fever can occur. In the short term, inflammation of the vocal cords often leads to complete loss of voice. This can represent a significant psychological burden for those affected, which can develop into a depressive mood over a longer period of illness.
An inflammation of the vocal cords can also change the color of the voice and can also often be associated with psychological problems. If the course is severe, painful coughing up of blood and mucus can occur, often followed by serious chronic pneumonia or laryngitis. Whooping cough, bronchitis or diphtheria can also occur. In very rare cases, inflammation of the vocal cords can develop what is known as vocal cord leukoplakia.
This in turn can lead to vocal cord or larynx cancer. Complications can also occur when treating vocal cord inflammation. Drugs such as antibiotics or painkillers can cause various side effects and interactions and sometimes trigger allergies and intolerances. Home remedies can worsen the symptoms if used incorrectly or trigger further symptoms and complications.
When should you go to the doctor?
Changes in the usual vocal environment or pronunciation are a cause for concern. If the impairments disappear after a restful night’s sleep, it is usually a temporary phenomenon that does not need to be followed up.
However, if the symptoms persist or increase in intensity, a doctor is needed. Persistent hoarseness, a scratchy throat, or a change in voice tone should be discussed with a doctor. If unwanted background noise occurs when speaking, this is a sign of a health impairment. If the person concerned can no longer adequately control the vibration behavior of the voice when speaking, they should consult a doctor. A sore throat, swelling in the throat area, or redness of the throat are also indications that should be brought to the attention of a doctor.
Immediate action is required in the event of fever, mucous or bloody sputum or shortness of breath. In these cases, the disease is already advanced. In order not to trigger long-term impairments, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. If there are no colds, impairment of the vocal environment is a sign of inflammation. If left untreated, germs and pathogens can spread and multiply in the organism. Therefore, in these cases, consultation with a doctor should be sought in order to prevent a deterioration in the state of health at an early stage.
Treatment & Therapy
If the symptoms last for more than three weeks and are accompanied by other symptoms such as fever and sputum, the inflammation can be treated with antibiotics, depending on the specific trigger. If the vocal cord inflammation is already chronic, there is not much that the doctor can do about it.
If nodules have formed, they can be surgically removed to prevent further tissue changes. However, the permanent hoarseness that has arisen as a result cannot be cured with it. Treatment with a speech or voice therapist can also be useful in this case.
In order to avoid vocal cord inflammation, it is advisable to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to support your own immune system. Cigarettes or other tobacco products should be avoided to avoid irritation. Constant talking or shouting should also be limited.
If there is multiple inflammation of the vocal folds due to work-related overstrain, a change of occupation may have to be considered in order to avoid a chronic course. In principle, it is advisable to consult a doctor for clarification in the event of vocal cord inflammation in order to rule out a severe course.
Affected people should take care of themselves. You should keep speaking to a minimum. Whispering and shouting should be avoided entirely. Heat is definitely good and has been shown to promote healing. Sick people should not only wear a scarf, but also drink hot drinks such as chamomile tea at the same time.
Various herbs, such as sage, thyme and chives, are said to have healing properties. Over-the-counter medications used to fight the common cold can also help with recovery. Self-treatment of vocal cord inflammation does not appear to be advisable in every case.
Anyone who works in a so-called speaking profession should consult a doctor right at the beginning of the illness: Since the voice is an existential factor for the practice of the profession in this group of people, any risk should be avoided from the start. If you experience shortness of breath or even fever, you should also consult a doctor.
As a rule, vocal cord inflammation takes a gentle course – after about two weeks it should heal. Anyone who is still suffering from the characteristic symptoms after this period cannot avoid seeing a doctor. There is definitely a risk of the disease becoming chronic. A healthy lifestyle appears to be the best follow-up care in the long run – this includes not smoking.
You can do that yourself
Acute vocal cord inflammation can be cured well with home remedies. A doctor’s visit is usually not necessary. Above all, those affected should take care of themselves. Talking should be kept to a minimum. You have to completely avoid whispering and shouting. Otherwise there are no significant differences compared to the treatment of a cold.
Heat has been shown to promote healing. Sick people should wear a scarf and consume hot beverages such as chamomile tea. Certain herbs such as sage, thyme and chives are said to have healing properties. Over-the-counter cold medicines can also help with recovery.
Self-treatment of vocal cord inflammation is not always advisable. People in a speaking profession should consult a doctor from the start. Since their voice is essential to the practice of their profession, they should not take any chances. If you experience shortness of breath or fever, you should also consult a doctor. An inflammation of the vocal cords usually takes a gentle course and heals after about two weeks. Anyone who still suffers from the typical symptoms should definitely consult a doctor. There is a risk that the disease will become chronic.