The vocal cords are comprised of two mucous membrane infoldings which extend horizontally through the larynx. They will vibrate, which will modulate the air flow which is expelled through the lungs during phonation. If the vocal cords of a child are irritated, overused or infected, they can become inflamed.

What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is the inflammation of the vocal cords. This condition may be long or short term, and can be caused by a number of conditions. Some of these include viruses, bacteria or environmental causes. Chronic laryngitis is usually a result of persistent exposure to an irritant, and this particular variation is more serious than acute laryngitis because its effects remain longer. A child may harm their vocal cords if they yell or talk more than usual, or they are exposed to a virus or bacteria. Children may also develop this condition if they are exposed to cigarette smoke, multiple sinus infections, allergens, chemicals or acid reflux.

What are the symptoms of laryngitis?

A child who has contracted laryngitis will display a number of symptoms. Some of these include:

  • A weakened voice
  • Inability to speak
  • Dry or hoarse throat
  • A tickling sensation in the throat
  • A persistent dry cough

How is the diagnosis established?

Because laryngitis affects the vocal cords, Dr. Samadi will begin with a visual examination. He will use a specialized mirror to study the child’s vocal cords, and he may also conduct a laryngoscopy to view the voice box. He will insert a flexible tube with a miniature camera attached via the mouth or nose, and he will look for warning signs such as redness, lesions or swelling.

How is Laryngitis treated?

Laryngitis treatment will depend on the underlying cause. If a virus is responsible for the condition, the symptoms in most cases will resolve themselves. When laryngitis is caused by bacteria it will be treated with antibiotics. Dr. Samadi may also prescribe corticosteroids, which are hormones that will lower inflammation. ENT for Children also recommends a number of steps parents can take at home to help their children overcome this condition. Some of these include installing a humidifier to reduce dryness, obtaining vocal therapy to correct the way the child uses their voice, and to drink a sufficient amount of fluids.

Children can also gargle with salt water, as well resting their voice by not yelling or talking loudly. Some parents give their children decongestants because this medication can clear up noses which are stuffy, but these should be avoided with children that have laryngitis as it can dry out their throat. Children can also use lozenges to ensure their throats remain lubricated.

While whispering is the opposite of yelling, it should be avoided as it can strain the child’s voice. In rare situations laryngitis can lead to distress in the child’s respiratory system. This is a dangerous situation which will require prompt medical assistance. The best way to prevent laryngitis is ensuring that the vocal cords are lubricated and not exposed to any irritants.