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     Volume 7 Issue 29 | July 18, 2008 |

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Losing your Voice

For those of you who spend all your time talking in the typical Bangali voice -- i.e. very loudly so that you can be heard halfway around the world, it is important to note that laryngitis is indeed a very relevant problem. And yes, screaming and shouting or generally talking at high decibel levels have an extremely negative effect on your voice.

Laryngitis is the inflammation of the larynx, which is, in layman's terms, the voice box. For those of you who do not know what the voice box is, it is an organ in the respiratory tract, which contains the vocal chords. The voicebox or larynx is used every time we breathe, talk or swallow. Inflammation of this particular organ, therefore, is not only extremely painful, but cause all sorts of other complications.

The most common cause of laryngitis is the flu, but there are other ways to get it. For example, you can get it from (as surmised earlier) shouting or overextending your voice too much. You can also get it from smoke or pollution which irritates your larynx and causes it to get infected. Another way of getting laryngitis is, surprisingly enough, through acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is caused usually by the abnormal flow of food, stomach acids and digestive juices that are regurgitated back into the esophagus, a tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This particular form of laryngitis, caused by GERD, is called reflux laryngitis.

There are two types of laryngitis, one is short term and the other is chronic, or long term. It usually only lasts for two weeks if it is short term, but if it is chronic and the symptoms keep coming back it is time to see a doctor because chances are, that the laryngitis is being caused by more severe problems.

The symptoms are easy enough to diagnose. The main symptom is that your voice gets extremely hoarse and raspy. You may also feel irritation in your throat, making it hard for you to swallow and sometimes making it impossible for you to speak at all. Symptoms are most obvious in the morning, and often it may be difficult to even get any kind of sound out, depending on how severe the laryngitis is. Laryngitis also causes painful coughing fits and your throat may seem dry and irritated throughout the day, causing the urge to clear your throat repeatedly.

Most of the time if you have short-term laryngitis the best thing to do is rest at home and not exert yourself in anyway. Drink lots of fluids, try to talk as little as possible, if you are a smoker refrain from smoking and stay away from other smokers and put some Vicks vaporiser or any other menthol crystals in a bucket full of hot water and inhale the fumes. Make sure you have a towel over your head while doing so. The menthol clears up the airways and thus makes your throat less irritable.

If you are suffering from long-term laryngitis you may need more treatment. For example, chronic laryngitis maybe a result of the way you talk or sing and as a result, many patients have to go through speech training or learn to talk and sing softly. Some of the more dangerous cases of chronic laryngitis may cause cancer in your throat.

Regardless of whether it is chronic or short-term, laryngitis is extremely painful and uncomfortable for the patient. Although it can lead to more serious deficiencies, the main issue with it is that it is more of an annoyance than anything else. Avoid smoking or being around polluted air (wear a mask if need be) and also try to rest your voice as much as possible.

Pictures taken from:
http://www.beliefnet.com/healthandhealing/images/si1393.jpg, http://www.krankyscartoons.com/images/Fat_Lady_Laryngitis.jpg

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