When Laryngitis Hits

Sick Girl

Sick Girl

It started with a sore throat on Thursday night.

Then I started feeling that I’ll be coming down with the flu by Friday.

By Saturday morning, I bought meds for cough (Dextromethorphan + Guaifenesin) and colds (Paracetamol + Phenylephrine). I started taking the cough meds on Saturday to see how it would work. And then by Sunday, I had slight fever when I woke up. But I had to teach review class for 8 hours. In the morning, my voice was normal. But by noon, I was already a bit hoarse. I couldn’t stop talking since I had to teach. I just gave my voice a rest after the session.

By Monday, I really felt so bad that I took a leave from work. I just stayed at home but I still used my voice—or what’s left of it—so I could talk minimally. I figured I might be sick because of stress at home and at work. There are only 2 trainers in the office and we’re handling so much.

By Tuesday, I still have some of my voice though I started not talking at all anymore to avoid straining my larynx further. I researched that I shouldn’t have been whispering at all to communicate because it strains my vocal cords as well. I then tried not to talk, but in my profession, it’s hard not to. I went to work today because I have to. Though I really wanted to rest, there are a lot of things needed to be done at work.

By Wednesday, I woke up with no voice. As in nada! I was so scared. I still went to work but really decided on going to the doctor after work. I avoided using my voice the whole day but there were a handful times that I had to whisper to be understood at work.

After work, I went to Healthway at Festival Mall for a check-up. Good thing we have a free check-up there. I told the doctor that I have no voice plus I have productive cough and colds. I was diagnosed with acute laryngopharyngitis. The larynx is the voice box. When it is inflamed, it results to a hoarse raspy voice. In some cases, it could result to dysphonia, which is the disorder in producing sound as evidence by hoarseness. Laryngitis is a condition that every singer, teacher, etc. do not want to be afflicted with.

As for my meds, I was prescribed to take methylprednisolone 16mg (1 tablet 2x daily for 5 days after meals) and erdosteine 300 mg (1 capsule 2x daily for 5 days after meals). After 2 days of treatment and if the symptoms persist, I will take co-amoxiclav (1 tablet 2x daily for 7 days). The doctor said I could stop taking methylprednisolone and erdosteine once the symptoms resolve.

Since methylprednisolone is more expensive I switched my prescription to prednisone 20mg. They are both corticosteroids and have the same action in the body. They have just different dosing. Since 4mg of methylprednisolone is equivalent to 5mg of prednisone, I will just take prednisone 20mg. I have been taking carbocisteine before but I now switched to erdosteine as mucolytic.

Prednisone is a corticosteroid and it has 2 uses: anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant. It is a common drug given to those with asthma, bronchitis, auto-immune diseases, etc. I was prescribed with a corticosteroid to reduce the inflammation of my larynx. And since it suppresses the immune system, I also took ascorbic acid as an antioxidant. I do not want acquiring any more diseases just because my immune system’s down. On the other hand, the mucolytic will help loosen the mucus and it will be easier for me to cough it up.

I hope that I would get better in 2 days as I have no wish to take co-amoxiclav. I have not taken it before and I’m afraid that it will change my immune system drastically. (Even though I’m a pharmacist, I really don’t like taking meds.)

I have actually resorted to using my laptop’s notepad to orient trainees and talk to my co-workers. That is aside from using sign language, of course. Commuting is really hard because I cannot tell the driver where I would be alighting. I admit it’s a bit curious way to live, but I wish for my life to return back to normal.

Now that I’m taking meds, I still haven’t seen any improvement yet. Anyway, it’s just the first dose so I won’t be seeing much. But I might have strained my larynx/pharynx from coughing too much. I can’t help it! My throat gets really really itchy and I would probably die if I suppress the urge to cough. I am also on water therapy. I’m drinking lots and lots and lots of water to keep myself hydrated.

Most likely, I will not be using my voice for a week or so until I get it back. I really miss hearing my own voice. I cannot even talk or sing. I feel like I’m being punished for being so talkative.

When I get better, I am really going to take so much care of my voice. I will try not to abuse it so much and I will take extra caution to avoid straining it again.

This is the first time I had laryngitis this bad. It totally sucks. Please pray for me to get better.

Anyway, I’d like to share some of the tips I learned that would relieve the symptoms of laryngitis:

Rest your voice. Total silence is the most healing gift you can give your worn-out voice, says Howard Levine, M.D., director of the Mount Sinai Nasal Sinus Center in Cleveland. At the least, avoid the extremes—whispering and shouting. “Whispering puts tremendous stress on the vocal cords,” Dr. Levine says. “If you must speak, you’re better off using a soft voice.”

Humidify, inside and out. “Inhaling the steam from a good old hot shower is one of the best treatments,” says Glenn Bunting, a senior speech pathologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. Or try a steam inhaler. “It’s like getting a facial,” he says. You also might consider using a humidifier in your bedroom to offset the damage from dry indoor heat, he adds.

You need to get enough water inside your body, too. He suggests this guideline for healthy water intake: Increase your water consumption until your urine is clear. If you’re taking vitamins like beta-carotene or medications that change the color of your urine, then simply consume 10 to 12 eight-ounce glasses of water daily.

Invite a chicken to lunch. If your hoarseness is from a cold, try chicken soup. “There’s a good scientific basis for chicken soup,” says Dr. Levine. The heat creates humidity, and the garlic is a good mucus thinner. If chicken soup isn’t your favorite dish, he suggests taking a garlic supplement. Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for the recommended amount.

Thin secretions. Robitussin syrup is good for thinning out mucus, says Dr. Levine. But avoid antihistamines, which have a drying effect. A decongestant can also help reduce the flow of mucus, he says, but if you have a heart condition, check with your doctor before taking them. Certain oral decongestants may increase blood pressure.

Avoid aspirin. If your cold has produced a lot of inflammation, aspirin can cause more bruising of the vocal cords, says Dr. Levine, which can make your hoarseness worse. Choose a nonaspirin pain reliever instead.

Control your cough. Use a cough suppressant and expectorant to prevent coughing from further damaging your vocal cords, says C. Thomas Yarington, M.D., clinical professor of otolaryngology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Don’t gargle. Contrary to popular belief, gargling with mouthwash actually makes hoarseness worse, says David Alessi, M.D., an otolaryngologist in Los Angeles. Most mouthwashes contain alcohol, which irritates mucous membranes and dehydrates vocal cords. The gargled liquid doesn’t actually get anywhere near the vocal cords, and the action of gargling itself is harmful. It will bang your vocal cords together and increase swelling.

Skip that drink. The alcohol in your cocktail has the same drying effect as the alcohol in a mouthwash, Dr. Alessi adds. If you’re hoarse, soothe your throat with a nonalcoholic beverage instead.

Pass on the caffeine. “Stay away from caffeine—in coffee, sodas or chocolate,” says Bunting. Caffeine is a drying agent, which won’t help those inflamed vocal cords.

And then, here are some foods to stay away from:

Acidic Foods. Acidic foods that can cause acid reflux can also cause laryngitis, according to Drugs.com. When acid from your stomach back flows into your esophagus, it can burn your larynx and cause damage. You might not realize you have acid reflux, but avoiding acidic foods can help whether you have a reflux condition or not. Acidic foods can also burn your throat as they pass down to your stomach for digestion. Avoid foods such as pineapples, lemons, oranges and tomato-based products; these are all considered acidic.

Spicy Foods. Spicy foods can cause irritation. Irritation to your larynx could worsen and prolong laryngitis. Irritation can aggravate the symptoms of laryngitis: the rough, scratchy throat, dry cough, rawness in your throat and hoarseness. Irritation can also cause irreversible damage, especially if you constantly clear your throat and continue to try to talk through the irritation. Spicy foods include hot sauces, curry, hot peppers and similar dishes.

Chocolate and Peppermint. Chocolate contains caffeine, which can zap fluids from your body. Peppermint can worsen conditions such as acid reflux, according to Drugs.com. Even small amounts of chocolate or peppermint can worsen the symptoms of laryngitis. Ask your doctor when you might be able to have these foods again.

Alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can have a burning effect, which can worsen laryngitis. Alcohol can also cause dehydration. When you have laryngitis, drinking plenty of water to keep your throat moist and hydrated is essential to healing. Drugs.com recommends that men drink around 3 liters of fluid per day, and women drink just over 2 liters of fluid per day. Avoid caffeinated drinks; they can have a dehydrating effect similar to alcohol, which can dry out your throat.

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