Laryngitis is defined as an inflammation of the laryngeal mucosa, the organ responsible for giving way to inspired and expired air. It is the most special area for phonation because there are vocal cords.
According to professional medical documents, this pathology is considered acute if normality is restored after a short period (hours or days). In case the symptoms last for more than three weeks, we will be dealing with cases of a chronic nature.
As we will see, laryngitis is a very common disease, in most cases of viral origin. That is why knowing its causes and symptoms is essential. Here we explain to you everything you require to know about it.
How is it distributed in the population?
Knowing the epidemiology of laryngitis, that is, who it affects and what is its prevalence (number of infected in a given population), is essential to address it. Epidemiological studies provide us with a series of data of special interest:
- Acute laryngitis accounts for 15-20% of respiratory diseases.
- The incidence in infants is 3 to 6%. That is, approximately 6 out of 10 people under the age of six suffer from this pathology in any given period.
- The typical profile of the affected person is a two-year-old male who suffers from the disease during the fall and winter.
- Acute laryngitis has a clear family component because according to pediatric magazines, children with relatives who have suffered it are three times more likely to present it.
As we have seen, we are facing a pathology that predominates in children’s environments. This is because up to six years of age; young children present a higher glottis and looser and less fibrous submucosal tissues, factors that predispose to infection.
Causes and symptoms
The research collected various causes that can cause laryngitis in the population. These are the following:
- Infectious: they can be due to viruses (cold, flu, herpes), bacteria ( Mycoplasma, diphtheria) or fungi (candidiasis or aspergillosis).
- Non-infectious – caused by allergies, trauma, medications, or autoimmune disorders.
According to studies, parainfluenza viruses 1, 2 and 3 are responsible for 65% of cases. Influenza A and B viruses (which cause the flu) and various types of adenoviruses are also common causative agents.
These pathogens are associated with an upper respiratory infection, giving rise to typical clinical manifestations of influenza. Some of them are the following:
- Dry and sore throat.
- Dysphagia that is, discomfort to swallow.
- Difficulty breathing and the presence of continuous coughing.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
These symptoms derive, in part, from inflammation of the pharyngeal mucosa that is red and edematous, that is, with an accumulation of extracellular fluid. The treatment is based on the patient’s vocal rest and the application of antipyretics and analgesics.
In acute cases, this disease is self-resolving; it ceases a few days after its appearance. The immune system fights the causative agent, and there are no sequelae.
Second on the list of importance. According to various bibliographic sources, this variant is also self-healing and quick to cure, but we should not, for this reason, fail to mention it.
One of the most common causative agents is bacteria of the genus Mycoplasma, which contains more than 100 different species. The symptoms are very similar to those mentioned above: fever, non-productive cough, pain when swallowing food and dysphonia (loss of the normal timbre of the voice).
In these cases, the treatment to be followed is based on the use of antibiotics. Erythromycin, clarithromycin, or azithromycin are effective drugs for killing bacteria in the larynx.
Some events produce this disease of non-pathogenic origin, which do not respond to microorganisms, but to use and the environment that surrounds the person:
- For allergies: it is the acute inflammation of the vocal cords and the rest of the laryngeal mucosa after the inhalation of allergens. It presents with variable symptoms, from a hawk to severe airway obstruction.
- Inhalation: by direct contact of the laryngeal tissue with harmful elements, such as smoke or very hot air. Common in fire or fire survivors.
- Due to trauma or vocal effort: laryngeal irritation is produced by a blow or overexertion of the vocal cords continued over time.
Laryngitis: what to remember?
In these lines, we have reflected that laryngitis is a multifaceted pathology, as it has various causes that range from infectious agents to simple injuries. Of course, there are common symptoms for all of them, such as dysphonia and the presence of non-productive cough.
Because infectious variants are the most common, they are transmitted between population sectors by direct contact or inhalation of fluids. Therefore, they appear with certain epidemiological patterns, showing peaks during winter and fall.
These respiratory pathologies are quite common in infants. It is not necessary to worry, as its nature tends to be self-solving. Still, if symptoms persist for more than two weeks, visiting the doctor urgently is the best option.