Viruses that hit the mucous membrane of the larynx are the most common cause of laryngitis. However, less common, but far more dangerous cause are bacteria. Larynx contains the vocal cords, and it is a very important respiratory organ located below the throat that allows air to pass through the trachea to the bronchi. The epiglottis, one of the main parts of the larynx, has an important function to prevent food from going into the trachea. Being located near nose and pharynx, it is often attacked by microorganisms that can cause inflammation, known as laryngitis. Almost every time laryngitis happens the passageway becomes narrow and breathing becomes more difficult.
What causes laryngitis?
The most common causes of laryngitis are viruses that hit the mucous membrane of the larynx. Those viruses usually lead to the swelling of the vocal cords and further narrowing of the larynx passageway.
Less common, but far more dangerous cause are bacteria that may lead to very severe forms of laryngitis. Thanks to the Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine these forms are extremely rare.
Due to the vocal cords swelling, a child’s voice sounds harsh and hoarse and due to the narrowing of the larynx, characteristic vibrational sound – stridor occurs.
Stridor is actually a vibration of the narrowing larynx that happens when the pressurized air passes through the trachea and continues further, into the lungs. This sound can be heard in the moment of the air inhalation, but it gets really dramatic when a child coughs.
However, it is not as bad as it looks! As we have already pointed out, the majority of children catch a viral laryngitis – croup, which is usually not followed by fever and a child’s general condition is good, despite coughing and stridor. Once the viral attack is over, a child’s mood improves, but soon the attack starts all over again. However, the infection clears on its own a few days later, but the question is how to help a child during the attack?
How to treat laryngitis in children?
First of all, do not panic! If your child doesn’t have high fever, blue lips and blue area around the lips and if he/she is in good condition in spite of a hoarse cough and stridor, keep in mind that it is almost certainly a viral laryngitis, relatively harmless disease despite the dramatic manifestation.
Although it sounds strange, you should try the following: make your bathroom very steamy, and close the door. Then bring your child into the bathroom to inhale a warm, moist air. This should not take longer than 10 minutes. The next thing you should try is to take your child outside and having him/her breath in the cold air for a few minutes (you can do this with the freezer as well). In most children the attack stops almost immediately. The trick is the sudden change in temperature and humidity, which makes the narrowing larynx loose.
After this helpful treatment, you will have enough time to contact the pediatrician who will decide on further therapy. If this method does not work, you need to overcome your fear and take the child to a doctor.
When to see the doctor?
Dangerous larynx inflammation happens very rarely, and it is the result of Haemophilus influenzae bacterial infection, which multiplies in the throat quickly and leads to a dramatic swelling of epiglottis, the flap that covers the upper part of the larynx. The swollen epiglottis narrows already small airway space, so it really makes the child suffocate. A part of bacteria and bacterial products penetrate into the blood stream and cause a very high fever.
You must see the doctor immediately if:
- The child has a high fever (over 39 degrees). If it happens that stridor and fever occur almost at the same time, you should see the doctor It is important to determine whether it is about the above mentioned dangerous form of bacterial inflammation of the epiglottis, which requires immediate antibiotic therapy with very strong antibiotics that are given through a vein only, to act as soon as possible.
- If the area around your child’s mouth begins to turn blue. This is a certain sign that there is not enough oxygen that reaches the child’s body, so the urgent treatment is a must!
- Child breaths hard and fast. This breathing difficulty – dyspnea is very easy to spot when a child takes the cloths off. The intercostal spaces move and dimple under the chin, in the middle of the upper part of the chest. This is a consequence of the enormous effort that muscles responsible for breathing make to push the air through the narrowed airway.
Cough and laryngitis
Cough is a regular companion of the larynx inflammation. The cough occurs because of the mucosal damage, due to the presence of viruses or bacteria, and for this reason the small nerve endings get irritated easily.
The irritated nerve endings trigger the cough reflex and because of this unproductive, persistent, dry cough the mucosa becomes more and more damaged and vocal cords become even more swollen. This all looks very dramatic: child breaths heavily, sometimes it seems as he/she is struggling for each breath, he/she often coughs long and harshly and these situations usually happen at night, so the child and the parents often end up in one of the emergency rooms.
Natural Remedies for Laryngitis
The most common cause of laryngitis are viruses, and as always, nature has made sure that we find a cure for the disease.
Tea against laryngitis
Tea against laryngitis is a mixture of plants that help in the treatment of laryngitis, soothe irritated areas and have anti-inflammatory effect.
Mullein, thyme, plantain and sage are powerful natural antiseptics. Marshmallow and Mullein protect and renew the lining of the larynx, vocal cords and throat with their mucus. Lemon balm has soothing effect and has strong antiviral activity. Fennel has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effect. It can be used as tea or for gargling.
- Black mallow (Malvae herba) 20 g
- Plantain (Plantaginis folium) 20g
- Balm (Melissae folium) 15g
- Mullein (Verbasci flos) 10 g
- Thyme (Serpylli herba) 10 g
- Fennel (Foeniculi fructus) 10 g
- Take 1 teaspoon of tea and pour with 2.5 dl of boiling water and leave covered for 15 minutes.
- Drink the tea in small sips while it is lukewarm.
- Depending on the age, weight and symptoms, drink one to four cups of tea per day, until the symptoms disappear.
- You can add honey, which will increase the beneficial effects of the plants.
- Do not give honey to children under one year, or those who are allergic to honey and bee products.
Another great plant that can help you is agrimony ( Agrimonia Eupatoria ).
This plant was used by the ancient Egyptians. It is extremely healing for the throat, mouth and larynx.
Professional speakers, trainers, presenters, singers, and all those who must spend a lot of time talking, should gargle throat with agrimony tea every day.
Research has proven that agrimony has astringent (tightens tissue and has anti-inflammatory effects), antibacterial, antiviral and immunostimulatory properties. It relieves the symptoms of laryngitis such as sore throat, cough and difficulty in swallowing. It also reduces inflammation of the throat and stimulates healing.
Method One (Agrimony Tea):
- Take 1 tablespoon of green Agrimony
- Pour it with 2 dl of boiling water
- Leave it covered for 15 minutes, then strain
- Gargle several times a day
Method Two (Fennel and Honey):
- Boil 2 dl of water
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon of honey in hot water
- Add 2-10 drops of fennel essential oil (depending on age, weight and symptoms)
- Gargle two to three times a day
The combination of therapeutic oils will help you and your child to breathe easier, prevent cramping and reduce inflammation.
In addition to olive oil healing effects, lavender will provide soothing effect, eucalyptus will act anti-inflammatory, analgesically and spasmolytically, and ravensara will act antiviral.
- 100 ml olive oil
- 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil (globulus or radiata)
- 20 drops of lavender essential oil
- 10 drops of ravensara essential oil
- Add essential oils into olive oil and mix it
- Apply to the chest and back using gentle movements
- In a few minutes, oils will reach the bloodstream and heal the body
Children younger than three years can use essential oils, but you have to lower the doses and oils have to be more lenient.
Use 100 ml of olive oil, 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
Natural Cough Syrup
This potion can cure even the most complicated cough that modern medicine can’t handle.
- Boil a cup of milk (250ml)
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of honey and mix well
- Add 2 well beaten yolks and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- Drink it every night before going to bed, for at least 5 days
Additional method for expelling phlegm:
Warm up the following ingredients and drink throughout the day – half in the morning and half in the evening.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 1 tablespoon of honey
Silence is the cure
The less you use your vocal cords, the faster the swelling will disappear and your voice will be restored. Communicate via text messages, pictures or pantomime – in any way except talking.
Contrary to popular belief, a whisper strains vocal cords as much as shouting. If a child needs to talk, ask him to speak with the normal tone.
Give your child to drink warm water throughout the day, also a hot tea without caffeine and warm chicken soup, because all of these have a calming effect on irritated throat. Tablets for throat or hard candy stimulate the secretion of saliva, which has a beneficial effect for dry or irritated throat.
Use the ‘fog’
Inhalation of hot steam for five or ten minutes without interruption will calm the throat and clear mucus. Turn on vaporizer or humidifier overnight in the child’s room. Three or four times a day sit with a child in a bath full of steam.
Do not allow screaming and shouting in the house and encourage your child to speak gently and avoid straining the voice when he/she is playing outside. If the problem gets worse due to the dry air in the winter, turn on a humidifier in the child’s room and throughout the house to keep the air wet, especially at night. Tobacco smoke can irritate the larynx, so avoid smoking near a child.