Inflammation or infection of the larynx and vocal cords, causing hoarseness or loss of voice.
Most often caused by the same viruses and bacteria which cause Colds, Sore Throats, Coughs, Sinusitis, and Bronchitis; less common causes are Allergies, shouting or straining the voice, continual coughing in order to bring up phlegm, vomiting, heavy smoking or drinking, inhaling toxic fumes, breathing through the mouth rather than the nose, Anxiety, and strong emotions. If condition does not clear up within 7-10 days, see your medical doctor; referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist may be necessary.
More likely to be a consequence of vocal overuse (an occupational hazard of market traders, teachers, and singers) than of infection; the vocal cords tend to swell, and in some cases develop polyps which may need to be removed surgically. However, more or less permanent hoarseness can be a symptom of Hypothyroidism, of chronic Sinusitis, or Tonsillitis, or of food allergy; progressive hoarseness may be due to a laryngeal tumour; paralysis of the vocal cords can occur as the result of lung cancer, see Cancer, Tuberculosis, heavy smoking or drinking, or thyroid surgery, or as part of the ageing process.
In acute cases, where infection is present, use the specific remedies given under the appropriate infection, or pick one from the list below. When laryngitis is chronic and recurrent, constitutional treatment should be sought.
Specific remedies to be taken 4 times daily for up to 7 days
- Sudden onset, made worse by cold dry winds, especially in child who has croup, fever, anxiety, restlessness Aconite 30c
- Throat feels worse in morning and after exposure to cold dry winds, better indoors in warm, loose cough with yellow phlegm, choking feeling Hepar sulph. 6c
- Dry, barking cough, especially in child with croup, loss of voice Spongia 6c
- Throat dry and sore, worse in evening, rasping voice, talking painful, dry, tickling cough Phosphorus 6c
- Throat dry and raw, mucus dripping down back of throat, person is quite unable to speak, coughing causes urination Causticum 6c
- Person elderly, throat worse in damp, cold weather and in evening, feels chilly, comes out in sweats, has poor circulation Carbo veg. 6c
- Where problem is caused by an allergy and uvula (flap of skin at back of throat) is visibly swollen Apis 30c
- Palate and roof of mouth feel raw, corners of mouth sore and cracked, blocked-up nose and burning catarrh, hoarseness, throat feels swollen, narrowed, and burning Arum 6c
- Chronic laryngitis, especially if person always talks too much Lachesis 6c
- Sudden loss of voice due to overuse Arnica 30c
- Hysterical loss of voice Ignatia 6c
- Hoarseness worse during menstruation Gelsemium 6c
- Paralysis of vocal cords Oxalic ac. 6c
- Chronic loss of voice without obvious cause Baryta carb. 6c
Specific remedies for loss of voice in singers, to be taken 4 times daily for up to 3 days
- Tickle in larynx made worse by cold, voice feeble due to overuse Alumina 30c
- If tickle increases, voice weak, trembly, and inclined to break Argentum 30c
- Voice weak on starting to sing, improves after a few minutes Rhus tox. 30c
- Clear discharge from nose, singing feels painful, larynx tender Phosphorus 30c
Self-help: Avoid nicotine and alcohol, and hot or smoke-filled atmospheres, rest the voice, and drink plenty of fluids. Extra Vitamin C, B complex, zinc, and iron would also be beneficial. Voice may also benefit from retraining.