Voiceless: How I Deal With Frequent Laryngitis
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box, or larynx. The inflammation can result in either hoarseness or the total loss of voice. Laryngitis is usually caused by an infection, allergies, coughing, or overuse of the vocal cords. It can last a few days or a few weeks.
Those who suffer from frequent bouts of laryngitis know how difficult it can be to be without a voice. Finding a way to treat and prevent the symptoms can be challenging, as well.
Ways to Prevent/Treat Laryngitis
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep vocal cords moist.
- Drink hot tea or coffee, steam is good for clearing sinuses.
- Eat local honey, many believe the pollen in the honey acts as a homeopathic cure.
- Use a humidifier at night while sleeping to prevent dry throat. A crock pot with water also works to moisten the air.
- Wash bed linens regularly to cut down on allergens.
- Take antihistamines.
- Keep windows closed, especially at dawn and dusk, which is prime time for pollen and other allergens.
- Use throat lozenges.
- Gargle warm salt water.
- Breathe steam either with a hot shower or by holding your head over a pot of boiling water. Wrap a towel over your head to keep the steam in being careful not to burn yourself or the towel.
- Avoid straining your voice by talking loud or yelling. Whispering can also be hard on the vocal cords. Try to let your voice rest as much as possible.
- Antibiotics may be necessary if the cause of laryngitis is an infection.
- See a doctor if the condition persists more than a few days or a week.
- If you have chronic laryngitis, it could be acid reflux even if you don't have the symptoms of heartburn (called silent reflux). This could be the case if you cough up a lot of mucus in the mornings. It could also be vocal cord dysfunction that has similar symptoms as asthma and typically involves difficulty drawing breath in. Talk to your doctor to have your throat checked if you suspect one of these causes.
Several times a year I come down with laryngitis and lose my voice due to allergies or colds. Until your voice is gone, you don’t realize how much being able to speak is taken for granted. Life suddenly becomes very difficult just because I can’t talk.
Simple things like talking to cashiers and servers in restaurants become almost impossible. I can’t answer the phone because the person on the other line won’t be able to hear me. Communicating with coworkers and family becomes a chore.
I have to write down what I want to say, a process that takes much more time than just being able to say it. Even typing takes longer than just speaking. Written notes are usually misunderstood more because they are absent from the body signal clues. Communicating simple ideas becomes frustrating.
Strangers who try to talk to me either think I am dumb or rude because I’m not talking to them. I have had people think that I was mute and try to use sign language. It seems silly to wear a “I have laryngitis” sign taped to me.
I also end up having to depend on others to speak for me. My husband orders for me at restaurants. Coworkers answer my phone calls. I don’t say all that I want to say because of the difficulty of non-verbal communication.
Being voiceless for even a short period of time makes me appreciate free and easy communication. Imagine not being able to speak at all. Not being understood is a tragedy that I thankfully only have to suffer temporarily.
I also think about people who have no say in the world around them. There are many voices in the world that are silenced. Having a voice but not being able to use it is because of oppression would be a torment of another source.
Being able to say what I want, even if it is a voice of dissension is a blessing. Being able to speak and laugh and talk to those around me is something I know longer take for granted. Sore throats can make a person grateful just to have a voice.
Which is more of a tragedy?
Vocal Cord Dysfunction
Information on the signs and symptoms and treatment of laryngitis.
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