The colloquial term for the larynx is the “voice box”, and since it is home to the vocal cords, it has that nickname for good reason. Our vocal cords are how we control both the volume and pitch of our voice, and Laryngitis is such a severe inflammation of the voice box, it has its own name. Needless to say, when a condition can be so bad that whispering is difficult, vocal professionals have more than a few reasons for concern.
Keep up with your vitamin C and zinc intake (they have gummy vitamins for adults, you know), because the most common cause of Laryngitis is coming down with a cold or the flu. And they’re not the only arch nemesis of the singer: acid reflux, allergies, smoking, and inhaled steroids are also somewhat common causes.
But the Lex Luther of Laryngitis causes for those who rely on their voice? Overuse and/or straining. Whether it’s practicing too much or cheering too loud at a concert because their falsetto is a revelation, be sure to stay wary of the potential repercussions.
The symptoms of Laryngitis are overt and can best be described as a very sore throat. Your voice can become hoarse or, somewhat shockingly, could temporarily disappear altogether, much like a first date who said they just needed to use the bathroom. Is there anything more frightening than your voice disappearing when you have a gig coming up other than clowns holding porcelain dolls? We think not. Additional symptoms include a runny nose, congestion, fever, and a chronic cough, not to mention soreness of throat.
Laryngitis that lasts for multiple weeks or frequently occurs definitely requires a doctor’s appointment, and Laryngitis as a result of the flu or another more serious ailment will also require you to seek immediate medical attention.
However, in the vast majority of cases, treating Laryngitis can be done at home with diligent care to your throat and vocal cords. The first thing you should do, if at all possible, is to rest your voice as much as possible, possibly while sitting as silently as possible while watching a Mission: Impossible movie.
Ignoring the symptoms of Laryngitis in favor of practicing or socializing can (will) make them worse. You can also try natural remedies made with herbal ingredients like the products available at CLYOR and other brands, which can both soothe and promote healing. Stay as hydrated as possible, and consider taking a light painkiller like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Also, subconsciously rubbing it while furrowing my brow seems to help too.
Yell as infrequently as possible, don’t smoke, try to stay away from smokers, and try not to yell at smokers about the negative health effects of smoking, because that’s double damage. If you have allergies, tend to them diligently to avoid experiencing the side effects that can lead to Laryngitis, and keep your nose at least six inches away from any flower you want to smell.
Keeping a humidified room and avoiding excessively dry air are also two highly recommended practices, so the Atacama Desert, “the driest non-polar desert in the world,” is a no-go. If you feel a slight inkling of Laryngitis or a sore throat in general, treat it like it’s Laryngitis and follow the non-medical treatments recommended in the above section. Otherwise, you could be caught red-throated hours before you hit the stage.
Laryngitis isn’t serious for most people, but to the vocal professional, like a singer, entertainer or lecturer, it can be devastating. Know the signs, and prevent, prevent, prevent.