Laryngitis can be triggered by external stimuli such as cigarette smoke, overloading of the vocal cords or pathogens. Only in one of these cases is laryngitis contagious.
Inflammation of the larynx (laryngitis). Read more in this article about laryngitis symptoms, causes, treatment, home remedies and is laryngitis contagious?
Laryngitis is mainly accompanied by hoarseness and other typical symptoms such as a sore throat. Laryngitis is only contagious in certain cases. How can laryngitis be treated and which home remedies help? Learn more about is laryngitis contagious?
What is laryngitis?
If viruses, bacteria or inhaled pollutants attack the larynx, the larynx mucous membranes and vocal cords can become inflamed. Specialists then speak of laryngitis or Inflammation of the larynx. It manifests itself, among other things, through hoarseness and coughing.
The larynx is part of the upper airway. It performs two important functions: It seals the entrance to the windpipe to prevent food from getting in when swallowing. It also contains the vocal folds, which we use to produce sounds.
The larynx can become inflamed, for example, if the upper respiratory tract is affected by an infection, the voice has been overused or harmful substances such as cigarette smoke are frequently inhaled. This is why teachers and smokers, for example, are more likely to get laryngitis.
When breathing, the vocal folds are tightly closed, when speaking and singing they lie loosely together. Because: In order to produce sounds, the vocal folds must be able to vibrate. The vibrations are generated by the outflowing breathing air.
Laryngitis manifests itself primarily through coughing and hoarseness. The voice becomes hoarse because the vocal folds swell up and plaque builds up on them due to the inflammation. Sometimes the voice is so badly affected that at times sufferers cannot speak at all.
In addition to the typical hoarseness, laryngitis is often manifested by other symptoms:
- Tingling and scratching in the throat
- Barking cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulties swallowing
- A dry and foreign body sensation in the throat (lump in the throat)
- Voice change
- Fever (acute laryngitis).
Not all symptoms have to occur with a laryngitis. There are no different symptoms in women and men with laryngitis.
Laryngitis can have a variety of causes, such as:
- Respiratory tract infection : In particular, cold viruses such as rhinoviruses or adenoviruses and flu viruses such as influenza or parainfluenza viruses cause respiratory tract infections and can result in laryngitis. Infections with bacteria such as pneumococci (Streptococcus pneumoniae) or bacteria of the genera Moraxella and Haemophilus can also cause laryngitis.
- Severely strained vocal cords : People who have to speak a lot for professional reasons, such as teachers, singers or people active in politics, are often hoarse. This hoarseness can also be the cause of laryngitis, as the vocal tract is constantly irritated.
- Sinus infection : People with (chronic) sinus infections tend to breathe through their mouth more often, which can lead to inflammation of the larynx.
- Deviated septum : Those who have a deviated or deformed nasal septum often experience restricted breathing through the nose. The result is increased breathing through the mouth, which can lead to laryngitis.
- Allergies : Even those affected by a pollen allergy (hay fever) often develop laryngitis. Here, too, the cause is increased breathing through the mouth and irritation of the larynx.
- Irritating air : pollutants in the air such as exhaust fumes, chemicals, cigarette smoke, but also dust and dry or conditioned air can cause laryngitis.
- Rising gastric acid : Reflux disease is often accompanied by heartburn, in which gastric acid rises up into the esophagus. Stomach acid irritates the mucous membranes of the throat, esophagus and larynx.
Is laryngitis contagious?
There is only a risk of infection if the laryngitis is the result of a bacterial or viral infection. The pathogens can be transmitted through tiny droplets, such as those produced when sneezing, coughing or speaking (droplet infection).
How long you are contagious depends on the type of pathogen. The flu (influenza) is infectious about four to five days after the first symptoms appear. A cold can be contagious for more than two weeks. As a rule, the pathogens first cause a cold or flu, until laryngitis can develop as a result.
Acute and chronic laryngitis
Depending on the duration, specialists distinguish between two different types of laryngitis:
- Acute laryngitis : Acute laryngitis is usually caused by viral infection. The symptoms usually last for about a week to a maximum of three weeks. Typically, the acute form heals completely, even without medical treatment.
- Chronic laryngitis : If laryngitis lasts longer than three weeks, the diagnosis is chronic laryngitis. It is then possible that the disease will persist for a longer period of time. The triggers also differ from the acute form, since heartburn or anatomical peculiarities such as a curvature of the nasal septum are often the cause. Under certain circumstances, an acute laryngitis can develop into a chronic form.
Laryngitis in children
Laryngitis can also occur in children. For the most part, it is a special form that can take a severe course. To be more precise, it is often caused by an inflammation of the epiglottis, which is often accompanied by severe difficulty in swallowing, fever and shortness of breath. At the first signs, parents should take their children to a pediatric practice.
However, the so-called pseudocroup (stenosing laryngitis), which can occur particularly in children between six months and three years, is more common. Severe coughing, severe hoarseness and abnormal breathing noises are signs of pseudocroup. Medical advice should also be sought immediately for this type of laryngitis.
Is laryngitis contagious to other people?
If laryngitis occurs as a result of a cold or flu, it can also be contagious. In most cases, however, the first thing that occurs is a cold, which can develop into laryngitis.
Which laryngitis is contagious?
Have you ever wondered that is laryngitis contagious? don’t worry we’ll tell you about is laryngitis contagious? If a laryngitis is caused by bacteria or viruses, it is contagious. People whose immune systems are already weakened are particularly susceptible to pathogens. But smokers and people with acutely or permanently irritated mucous membranes should also be careful.
Anyone suffering from persistent voice problems such as hoarseness and other typical laryngitis symptoms should be examined by a doctor. In order to secure the diagnosis, the doctor first asks a few questions. In the context of the medical history, the exact complaints are of interest and how long they have existed. In addition, the doctor asks those affected whether the voice is exposed to heavy strain (e.g. at work) or whether pollutants are regularly inhaled.
With the help of a smear of the larynx mucosa, the pathogen that causes the inflammation can also be determined. In this way, a targeted therapy for laryngitis can be determined. The larynx can then be examined using a small mirror or an endoscope (laryngoscopy). There are two types of laryngoscopy:
- Indirect laryngoscopy : In indirect laryngoscopy, professionals gently advance the subject’s tongue and slide the mirror or endoscope up to the uvula. This allows the larynx to be viewed more closely from above.
- Direct laryngoscopy : Direct laryngoscopy is usually performed under anesthesia. An endoscope is pushed up to the larynx in order to be able to better assess the condition of the mucous membranes of the larynx.
Laryngoscopy can be used to determine whether and how the larynx mucosa and vocal folds have changed. In addition, a distinction can be made between an acute and a chronic type.
In the case of acute laryngitis, no further examinations are usually necessary. If chronic laryngitis is suspected, a tissue sample (biopsy) of the larynx mucosa can be taken and examined. In this way, malignant changes such as laryngeal carcinoma (larynx cancer) can also be ruled out.
Anti-inflammatory agents and decongestants can help against the inflammation and the associated symptoms. In addition, those affected must protect their voice by avoiding speaking and smoking as much as possible. In addition, there are other measures to treat laryngitis.
Treat laryngitis with medication
Depending on the trigger, various medications can be used to treat laryngitis.
- Antibiotics : If bacteria have caused the inflammation, antibiotics can help. In the case of a viral infection, on the other hand, antibiotics are unsuitable unless a bacterial superinfection has developed.
- Drugs with cortisone : If the laryngitis is the result of chronic sinusitis, a nasal spray containing cortisone can help. Specialists may also prescribe cortisone in tablet form to treat the inflammation.
- Lozenges : Over-the-counter or prescribed lozenges help moisten the mucous membranes and relieve discomfort.
- Acid inhibitors : If reflux disease has caused the laryngitis, the reflux can be treated with so-called proton pump inhibitors (acid inhibitors). This causes the stomach to produce less acid. Changing your diet can also help.
Other measures to treat laryngitis
In addition to medication, speech therapy or professional voice training can help in the long term, especially for people who speak a lot and rely on their voice. Patients learn special voice exercises and speaking techniques that can prevent irritation of the larynx.
If the laryngitis is accompanied by shortness of breath and takes a severe course, the temporary administration of oxygen can be arranged (oxygen therapy). This may also require hospital treatment.
Laryngitis: tips and home remedies
Those affected by laryngitis should primarily adhere to the following tips:
- Spare voice
- Do not smoke
- Drink no alcohol
- Avoid hot spices.
Anyone who comes into contact with pollutants for professional reasons should report the problem to the company or the company doctor.
In addition, the symptoms of laryngitis can be alleviated with the help of various home remedies and at the same time the recovery can be promoted. For example, we recommend:
- Inhalation : Inhaling steam is considered a particularly suitable home remedy for laryngitis. Sage, chamomile or marshmallow are recommended as additives.
- Humid room air : With the help of a special room air humidifier or by placing water bowls on the heater, humid room air can be ensured. This has a positive effect on moistening the irritated mucous membranes.
- Fluid intake : Especially warm, not too hot herbal teas should be drunk in case of laryngitis. Drinking a lot keeps the mucous membranes moist and ensures that possible mucus dissolves and pathogens are transported out of the body.
- Sucking throat drops : Sucking throat drops can also moisten mucous membranes and relieve symptoms.
- Neck wraps : Warm neck wraps, such as potato wraps or quark wraps, are suitable home remedies for laryngitis.
Laryngitis: duration and course
Acute laryngitis usually does not last more than three weeks. If a viral infection was the cause, the inflammation often heals after a few days. Bacterial infections sometimes cause symptoms for a longer period of time. In general, the course depends above all on how consistently patients protect their voice.
Chronic laryngitis can sometimes last a few weeks. It occurs repeatedly in many of those affected, especially if they continue to strain their voice or expose it to harmful influences.
Possible complications of laryngitis
If the vocal folds are severely swollen, some sufferers have shortness of breath. This rarely happens in adults. However, this risk is more likely in children. In such cases, you should therefore be monitored as an inpatient in the hospital until the swelling has subsided and you can breathe freely again.
If left untreated, acute laryngitis can progress to chronic. If those affected do not protect their voice, there is also a risk that vocal cord nodules will form or functional dysphonia will develop.
In chronic laryngitis over a long period of time, the mucous membrane cells can degenerate and develop into a precancerous stage (precancer) or cancer. Smoking and regular drinking of large amounts of alcohol contribute in particular to this.
How can laryngitis be prevented?
Colds often cause acute laryngitis. In order to prevent a cold, the focus should be on hygiene, especially in winter. Regular and correct washing of hands is essential to prevent infection with viruses or bacteria.
In order to prevent chronic laryngitis, the following points should also be observed:
- Avoid inhaling pollutants
- No smoking
- Consume alcohol in moderation
- Balanced, vitamin-rich diet.
If you put a lot of strain on your voice over a long period of time, you should pay attention to the correct vocal technique. A speech therapy practice or professional voice training can help.
Is laryngitis contagious or not?
Is laryngitis contagious or not? Often people want to know this. Laryngitis can be triggered by external stimuli such as cigarette smoke, overloading of the vocal cords or pathogens. Only in one of these cases is laryngitis contagious.