A college professor came to my clinic with the
complaint of Hoarseness of voice. She said she had to strain to
give a lecture which use to get worse by evening time. This problem
had been there since the time she started teaching in the college.
She also suffered from repeated upper respiratory tract infections
like cold. She felt she was allergic to the chalk she had to use.
Unfortunately for her due to her profession she could not escape
from this problem.
What this professor was suffering from was nothing but Chronic Laryngitis
due to constant use of her voice and other occupational hazards.
WHAT IS LARYNGITIS?
If you are familiar with your anatomy then you
will know that your larynx is situated at the top of your windpipe
and contains your vocal chords. When these chords get inflamed or
infected they swell. This swelling or inflammation is known as Laryngitis.
Normally the vocal chords open and close smoothly producing sounds
due to their vibration and movement. However when these chords are
affected the air escapes between them. This makes your voice hoarse
and you have to strain to talk.
WHAT CAUSES LARYNGITIS?
There are two types of Laryngitis, Acute and Chronic.
The common causes for acute laryngitis are:
1. Infection - this could be either viral
or bacterial in nature. The most common viral infections are cold
or Flu. Any upper respiratory tract infection can give rise to laryngitis.
2. Irritation - any irritation to the vocal
chords can cause laryngitis. The irritation could be in the form
of allergies, excessive singing or talking if you are not accustomed
or trained for it, breathing in irritating fumes like smoke or certain
other chemicals. All these cause irritation leading to acute laryngitis.
The common causes for Chronic Laryngitis are:
1. Overuse of the vocal chords - if you
are a singer or are in a profession where you need to use your vocal
chords constantly then you are at risk for developing small growths
known as nodules or polyps on your chords. These growths interfere
with speech and the sounds produced.
2. Age - as we grow older our vocal chords
loose some of the tension. Due to this loss of tension our vocal
chords do not vibrate as they use to and hence there is a difference
in the sounds produced.
3. Constant irritation - if you are a smoker
then you are at risk of suffering from chronic laryngitis. Smoking
and excessive drinking cause inflammation of the vocal chords. Smoking
can also lead to the formation of polyps or growths on the vocal
chords. Cancer of the larynx can be caused by smoking.
Constant irritation of the larynx can also be caused by acid reflux
(that is the regurgitation of stomach juices and acid into the oesophagus
and throat). That means a person suffering from acidity and heartburn
is at risk of developing chronic laryngitis.
4. Nerve damage - in order for sound to
be produced the muscles of the vocal chords must function. They
are controlled by nerves and hence if there is any damage to the
nerve supply then these muscles do not function. Damage to the nerves
can be caused by some injury or blow to the area or certain neurological
conditions. Even a person who has suffered a stroke might experience
weakness or paralysis of the vocal chords. Sometimes even a tumor
can press on the nerves and destroy them.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF LARYNGITIS?
The common signs and symptoms of Laryngitis are:
1. The person feels a constant need to clear his or her throat.
2. An irritation may be felt in the throat. Sometimes
the patient will complaint of a sore throat.
3. There is a hoarseness of the voice or a change
in the normal tone.
4. Some people feel a tickling sensation or rawness
in the throat.
5. Talking becomes an effort and the person has
to strain in order to be heard. There may also be weakness of the
6. The throat may feel dry and there may be a
persistent dry cough.
7. In some cases the patient may even develop
8. On examination of the neck area enlarged lymph
nodes may be felt.
9. In severe cases there may be difficulty in
breathing due to the obstruction of the windpipe. This is especially
seen in children and is very dangerous. Immediate treatment is needed
before complete obstruction takes place.
HOW CAN LARYNGITIS BE PREVENTED?
There are few precautions you can take in order
to prevent laryngitis from occurring however the best precaution
is to see that your immunity is in good condition by leading a healthy
lifestyle and correct diet.
1. If you are a smoker or are in constant contact with one then
you are at risk of getting laryngitis. Smoke dries your throat and
causes irritation of the vocal chords. Therefore give up smoking
2. Drink lots of water throughout the day. This
is very important and just a simple thing as drinking water will
prevent you from acquiring a number of health problems. However
make sure the water you drink is PURE.
3. If you are a singer or are in the profession
where you constantly need to use your voice then learn the correct
way of talking or singing. There are certain exercises you can do
before you sing.
4. Avoid taking excessive amounts of alcohol.
This is not good for your vocal chords and other parts of your body
too. Also alcohol and caffeine tend to cause dryness of the throat,
which can make you more susceptible to developing laryngitis.
5. Do not keep hawking and clearing your throat.
This does more harm than good since it causes abnormal vibrations
of the chords and can cause inflammation.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR LARYNGITIS?
The treatment for laryngitis both acute and chronic
would depend on the cause. However in cases of acute laryngitis
the Homoeopathic medicine is prescribed more on the basis of the
acute signs and symptoms where as in chronic cases a more detailed
case history and the constitution of the patient becomes important.
Here are a few remedies often used for both acute and chronic cases.
The case of the college professor that I have
written about received this remedy since all the symptoms were present.
She had to constantly use her voice due to which she had hoarseness
and soreness of the larynx. Arum is a very important remedy for
treating people who have to exert their larynx like politicians,
public speakers, lecturers and even professional singers.
There is a constant desire to clear or hawk and the voice sounds
squeaky or breaks while talking. This professor also had repeated
colds with sneezing and watering of the nose. The discharge was
transparent but acrid and even the eyes use to water and burn.
I gave her Arum Triphyllum 200, 5 pills in repeated doses and she
was fit to give a lecture the very next day.
Phosphorus is another very handy drug in our material
medica for laryngitis. Here the person complaints of a burning sensation
and dryness of the larynx and pharynx. There is hoarseness of voice,
which gets worse towards evening. Another peculiar symptom felt
is a violent tickling sensation in the larynx while speaking. Due
to the pain experienced while talking the patient prefers to keep
Phosphorus is also effective for dry tickling cough and bronchitis.
This patient will feel worse in cold open air and when the weather
Phosphorus 200, 5 pills 4 times a day should be
prescribed in such cases.
Arnica Montana though popularly known as a drug
used for injuries and bruises can also be prescribed in cases where
there is hoarseness or loss of voice from just overuse. It can be
given as a specific in these cases where no there cause is determined.
This drug has proven effective in many cases of
severe laryngits and croup where the symptoms are present. Here
the larynx feels constricted and dry. Talking or singing makes the
condition worse. Even touching the larynx increases the pain. There
is a barking, hollow, sawing cough. A spongia patient will complain
of a burning sensation in the throat and chest, which is aggravated
by cold drinks, sweets and better by drinking warm water.
There may be difficulty in breathing, which is worse at night and
When the symptoms are present give Spongia 200,
5 pills in repeated doses till cure takes place.
I had a very interesting case of a 40 year old
man suffering from Chronic Laryngitis. He complained of hoarseness
of voice and sometimes even complete loss of voice. He said he felt
choked and suffocated especially on lying down. He could not even
button the top of his shirt or wear a tie because he felt strangulated
When I tried to examine him he got pain on touching the area. On
asking him the detailed case history I found out that he was very
fond of drinking alcohol. Also he felt better in open air and by
drinking something cold. He was aggravated by anything around his
Lachesis 1M, 5 pills in constitutional doses was
prescribed to him which not only cured the laryngitis but also lessened
the hypersensitivity he felt around his neck.