Treating Your Child With Laryngitis
Laryngitis is not a devastating illness nor a particularly dangerous one. Most children and adults will have a case of laryngitis at least once in their life and the illness will run its course with few side effects or risk factors. However, if your child has laryngitis you want to be sure you’re treating them properly so they can rest and relax and don’t put additional stress on their vocal chords. It’s helpful to know the difference between laryngitis and other illnesses so you know you’re not overlooking any symptoms of dangerous conditions and so your child is comforted during their illnesses.
What is Laryngitis
Laryngitis is simply a swelling of the voice box or vocal cords which in turn causes a loss of voice or hoarseness. Typically a patient will have a fever as the body tries to heal itself, and they may have a swelling of the lymph nodes in the throat.
There are many causes of laryngitis as the voice box, located at the top of the lungs, can become easily infected or inflamed. This causes them to swell which causes the hoarseness of laryngitis, and in some cases this may block the airway to the lungs. Severely cold weather can cause this swelling, as can allergies, a bacterial infection, the common cold or flu, bronchitis, irritants or chemicals in the air including dust or cigarette smoke, pneumonia, or reaction to medications. An upper respiratory infection can also affect the voice box.
Typically laryngitis is not dangerous and the illness runs its course over several days of rest. However, you need to ensure you’re treating the underlying causes of laryngitis. For a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be recommended. If a patient has pneumonia, this needs to be cared for properly, as does an upper respiratory infection. If a child has croup or epiglottitis, this may lead to a dangerous respiratory blockage which in rare cases is fatal.
If serious causes of laryngitis have been ruled out, typically treatment involves rest and time to heal. If the child is able to gargle, doing so with saltwater can ease the pain of the swollen vocal cords. During wintertime, the child needs to keep their neck and throat covered and warm. A humidifier in their room can help with the dry feeling that typically accompanies laryngitis. If they have a hard time eating because of the pain in their throat, try protein shakes and sports drinks as these are easier to get down and will ensure they get their nutrition. Popsicles can also help with the pain and soreness in their throat.
If you send a child to school while they still have laryngitis, be sure their teachers and the school know of their condition as they should not be talking while their throat is still sore. They need rest to heal, so it may be good to excuse them from gym or recess.
Your doctor can also advise you on personalized treatment for your child’s laryngitis. It may be good to keep them home from school for the first few days so they can rest and heal and so you know they’re warm and comfortable. You can also monitor their condition so you know they’re healing properly and are able to eat during their illness.