Can Allergies Cause Laryngitis?

Laryngitis is a condition that is reported to affect over 3 million Americans each year and it can cause a lot of disruption to your life, not to mention pain. When you experience the symptoms, you will be equipped with a host of questions about how to treat them and prevent future episodes. One of the most pertinent is “can laryngitis be caused by allergies?”. Here’s all you need to know about allergy laryngitis.

What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is defined as an inflammation of your larynx (voice box) and the vocal cords. It causes the vocal cords to swell and become irritated, which can lead to a variety of symptoms including a hoarse voice, a cough, throat soreness, voice loss, and tickling sensations.

Most people experience acute laryngitis, which is characterized by lasting for no longer than two weeks. Meanwhile, lifetime instances of chronic laryngitis that lasts for longer than three weeks is up to 21%. The majority of acute laryngitis cases are considered minor health issues and are caused by bacteria infections resulting from flu or by overusing the vocal cords, which is why singers often get it too. 

Can allergies cause laryngitis?

Laryngitis is often brought on by irritation. So, the short answer to the question “can laryngitis be caused by allergies?” is yes. As such, there should be little surprise to see a spike in allergy laryngitis during the pollen season, with many people experiencing symptoms for an average of 4-8 weeks in children. In fact, a study entitled Allergic laryngitis as a cause of dysphonia: a preliminary report additionally found that people with more airborne allergies show a higher incidence of undiagnosed vocal dysfunction. 

Allergies can directly lead to laryngitis because they actively cause irritation to the larynx and general throat area. The immune system sees inhaled allergens as a threat and will produce more mucus as a way to fight this, which subsequently causes irritation to the vocal folds and vocal cords. 

Furthermore, congestion in the nasal and throat passages or the indirect side effects of antihistamines can cause further aggravation. Whether the root cause of laryngitis or exacerbates an existing instance of the cognition, allergies will contribute heavily to the pain and discomfort experienced in both acute and chronic cases.

How do you treat laryngitis from allergies?

Treating allergy laryngitis can be broken into two issues. Firstly, you want to reduce the severity of your symptoms to make your life more comfortable. To do this, you will largely use the same techniques as you would to treat other forms of laryngitis. Resting the vocal cords and avoiding excessive talking, especially at loud volumes will be key. Drinking lots of fluids to keep the muscles lubricated will be crucial too while lozenges are another popular choice.

Antihistamines are great for reducing the symptoms and relieving congestion, but can also dry out the layer of mucus that protects the vocal cords. However, over 20% of the population is hindered by allergic rhinitis. When combined with the link to dysphonia, the need to manage the allergens is equally vital.

If you’re unsure of the trigger, a doctor may arrange for an allergy test. Pollen, air pollution, tobacco smoke, mold, and chemical fumes are some of the most common examples. Symptoms can be managed with medications while preventative methods to avoid contact with allergens are an effective approach. This can include using an air humidifier. 

How long does laryngitis last with allergies?

Allergen laryngitis falls into the same time frames of acute and chronic laryngitis. Research by Andrea Campagnolo and Michael S. Benninger into Allergic laryngitis: chronic laryngitis and allergic sensitization noted chronic symptoms like excessive mucus in patients with allergies and laryngitis or rhinitis. The problem is that without treating the negative impacts of allergens, the irritation and inflammation of the vocal cords will persist.

Many people who suffer from allergy laryngitis will experience discomfort for several weeks, often throughout the duration of the pollen season. It is likely that you’ll notice symptoms get better and worse at different stages during that period, but at last a little hoarseness will be present at all times. It can get uncomfortable and have a negative impact on your mental wellness in the process. 

Once the allergen triggers have been removed from your surroundings, you should find that the symptoms subside within 1-2 weeks, which is the same as other forms of laryngitis. To help the process along, using the right medications and getting lots of rest is advised.     

When to see a doctor?

When laryngitis lasts for more than two weeks or returns more frequently than 1-2 times per year, seeking medical advice is vital. Not least because it can help investigate related conditions like tonsillitis or pharyngitis. Alternatively, if you feel that the symptoms could be linked to allergies but need confirmation, a doctor will guide you to the right response and treatment plan. 

Alternatively, you should seek medical support if laryngitis causes you to cough up blood or experience difficulties with breathing. High-pitched inhaling sounds known as stridor, which are more commonly noted in children, are another reason to call a doctor.

How can DrHouse help you?

In-person doctor visits may not appeal when you are struggling with laryngitis, especially in the post-Covid world as you’re already having difficulty breathing. DrHouse can connect you to an online doctor, allowing you to gain a diagnosis from the comfort of your home. Better still, it’s a very quick solution that could get you seen within the next 15 minutes. You can get started by downloading our app today.

Key Takeaways

Allergy laryngitis is perhaps a little more common than most people think. When airborne allergens are inhaled, they can irritate the vocal folds to cause swelling and hoarseness. While many cases will only last a few days, especially with the right prevention to avoid triggers, they can last for several weeks and lead to repeat episodes. With early intervention, though, staying on top of the symptoms should be a straightforward task.

Sources:

  • What is laryngitis?Mercy Health. Available from:https://www.mercy.com/health-care-services/primary-care-family-medicine/conditions/laryngitis 
  • Premjit S. Randhawa, Sar Nouraei, Shaji Mansuri & John S. Rubin (2010) Allergic laryngitis as a cause of dysphonia: a preliminary report, Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology, 35:4, 169-174, DOI: 10.3109/14015431003599012 
  • de la Hoz Caballer B, Rodríguez M, Fraj J, Cerecedo I, Antolín-Amérigo D, Colás C. Allergic rhinitis and its impact on work productivity in primary care practice and a comparison with other common diseases: the Cross-sectional study to evAluate work Productivity in allergic Rhinitis compared with other common dIseases (CAPRI) study. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2012 Sep-Oct;26(5):390-4. Available from: https://doi.org/10.2500%2Fajra.2012.26.3799 
  • Andrea Campagnolo, Michael S. Benninger (2019), Allergic laryngitis: chronic laryngitis and allergic sensitization. Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology. Vol. 85. Issue 3. pages 263-266 (May – June 2019). Available from: 10.1016/j.bjorl.2019.02.001

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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