Laryngitis – What it is and how to help it

With lots of viruses going around this season, we’ve noticed and experienced laryngitis at the studio. Laryngitis can be misunderstood, so we wanted to share some information about it, including tips and suggestions to help you recover when experiencing laryngitis.

laryngitisWhat is laryngitis?

The Oxford Dictionary defines laryngitis as: “inflammation of the larynx, typically resulting in huskiness or loss of the voice, harsh breathing, and a painful cough.

You may have experienced laryngitis before or heard someone with it. They may not be able to make any sound at all, or their voice may sound squeaky, husky, raspy, or be present in some ranges while absent in other ranges. As a singer, laryngitis is no fun at all!

What causes laryngitis?

Laryngitis is not a virus or illness in itself. Laryngitis is a symptom. It is caused by anything that causes inflammation to the larynx, such as overuse, irritation, or infection, and can include:

  • viral infections such as cold or flu
  • yelling or screaming
  • excessive singing
  • vocal injury
  • physical injury to the larynx
  • exposure to irritants or allergens, such as smoke
  • bacterial or fungal infections (though viral infections are more frequently the cause)

What to do if you have laryngitis:

  • Rest your voice – this is KEY!laryngitis
  • Stay hydrated with lots of clear fluids
  • Drink warm herbal teas, such as lemon ginger tea with honey
  • Gargle warm salt water
  • Use a humidifier
  • Focus on other aspects of your singing lesson material that doesn’t require actual singing, such as words, translations, character development, research into the storyline or composer, etc.
  • Once you start to recover, take it easy. Start with gentle warm ups for short durations.

What NOT to do if you have laryngitis:

  • Whisper – believe it or not, whispering can actually put more strain on your voice than talking
  • Sing or shout – don’t add any unnecessary stress to your voice. Take it easy when you start to sing again.
  • Dry out your voice – with caffeine, decongestants, etc.

How long will my laryngitis last?

While we don’t have a crystal ball and everyone is different, laryngitis caused by a virus usually improves within a few days, and symptoms may linger for a couple of weeks. If laryngitis symptoms last for more than three weeks, causes other than a viral illness should be explored.

As a singer – laryngitis can be extremely frustrating, especially when it interferes with lessons, competitions, or singing exams. Check out our teacher’s tips and tricks for staying hydrated and healthy for more info.

Note: We are not health professionals. The information in this post is based on our research and personal experience and should not replace the advice of a health professional.