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Amarillo, TX 79124
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Head and Neck

Laryngitis

Laryngitis is a common medical condition characterized by inflammation and swelling of the larynx (voice box). The majority of cases are caused by common viruses, infections or overuse of your voice. Laryngitis is not considered a serious health concern.

Symptoms and Signs

Laryngitis may occur at the same time or a couple of days after you have had a sore throat. Once the infection has cleared up, laryngitis can persist for a few weeks afterwards. At times, laryngitis can be an indication of serious laryngeal cancer. The following symptoms definitely warrant a visit to a head, neck, and throat specialist:

  • A sore throat accompanied by a fever
  • Coughing up yellow or green phlegm (possibly bacterial sinusitis or bronchitis)
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty drinking liquids
  • Previous history of throat and/or breathing problems
  • Symptoms continuing for two to three weeks regardless of voice rest
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Discomfort or pain of the throat
  • Associated neck swelling

Symptoms and signs of common laryngitis include the following:

  • Hoarseness
  • Sensation of having a “tickle in your throat”
  • An urge to constantly clear your throat
  • Low grade fever
  • Congestion
  • Cough

If your child only has hoarseness, either with or without accompanying symptoms, like a mild fever (under 100.5 F), muscle aches, runny nose, nasal congestion or cough, their laryngitis should be treated in the same manner as an adult case. However, if your child has a high fever, sore throat, refuses to eat/drink and in the case of an infant has fewer wet diapers than normal (possible dehydration), you should take them to the emergency department immediately.

Some symptoms can be extremely serious and actually life threatening. In these cases, you or your child should proceed immediately to the nearest emergency room or call 911:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sensation that the throat is closing up
  • Unable to swallow properly 
  • Drooling
  • Can only breathe sitting in an upright position
  • Whistling sound in the throat when breathing

Causes and Concerns

Typically, laryngitis results from a virus or using your voice too much. It can also develop from a bacterial throat infection. Bacterial and viral cases of laryngitis are quite contagious. On very rare occasions, laryngitis infections can be caused by more serious conditions like fungal infections, tuberculosis or syphilis. A patient with a persistent case of laryngitis should see head, neck, and throat specialist to rule out the possibility of a tumor, which could prove to be cancerous. Anyone who smokes or consumes alcohol is at a higher risk for throat cancers.

Solutions and Options

The majority of the time, you or your child can be evaluated by your doctor with a physical examination. He or she will concentrate on the throat, nose, ears and neck. In the case of your child, if they have severe symptoms, your doctor may send them for a chest and neck x-ray. A thorough examination of the throat may be performed with a small, lighted scope that is guided through the nose to the throat, after the nose is frozen with local anaesthetic.

This procedure takes a few minutes but it can provide important information concerning the condition of the laryngeal nerve controlling movements of the vocal cords. On occasion, a head, neck, and throat specialist might draw blood for a complete blood count (CBC) specimen. This would probably be done more in the case of your child rather than yourself.

If symptoms have only lasted for a few days or come on after overusing the voice, the main treatment is to try to rest the voice for as long as possible as well as drinking lots of fluids. If you or your child display symptoms of viral infection (i.e. low fever, cough, congested or runny nose), then you need to push fluids and take either Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) to relieve these symptoms.

You or your child should also try inhaling steam from a hot bath/shower or using a cool mist humidifier to help ease symptoms. Generally speaking, the above home treatments should cure or improve the laryngitis. If the laryngitis lingers, make an appointment to see a specialist. He/she may prescribe antibiotics if an accompanying bacterial infection is suspected.

Summary

It is extremely important to the overall health and wellbeing of your entire family to never ignore serious medical symptoms, such as persistent laryngitis. If you have some of these symptoms, our caring health professionals can offer solutions to you. Call today for an appointment.

Swollen Glands

Do you have a sore throat, headache, and fatigue? It is possible that you could have swollen lymph nodes, also called "swollen glands." Typically, if your glands are swollen, it is an indication that your body is fighting an infection or some other type of illness.

Purpose of Lymph Nodes

Helping your body battle infections and other diseases, lymph nodes are bean-shaped, small masses of tissue components of a large lymphatic system. When lymphatic fluid moves through your body, lymphocytes (immune cells) within the lymph glands trap viruses, bacteria and other possibly harmful substances and destroy them. This helps keep these pathogens from spreading any further.

Locations

No doubt, you are already aware of the lymph nodes found in your neck. However, you actually have hundreds of lymph nodes located throughout your entire body. Your tonsils are also classified as lymph tissues. Sometimes, they can become swollen and inflamed to fight illnesses like tonsillitis. This condition is most common in children, but adults can also contract it. Other areas of the body where you might feel swollen lymph nodes include:

  • Behind your ears
  • Under your jaw
  • The lower part of the back of your head
  • Your armpits
  • Your groin area

Symptoms and Signs

Under normal circumstances, you should not be able to feel your glands. Normally, they are approximately one half inch in diameter. However, when you or your child fights off an illness, these glands may swell to double or triple their regular size. At this point, they can be felt very easily. Additional signs and symptoms of swollen glands include:

  • Pain or tenderness when pressure is applied
  • Sore throat, fever and or sores in the mouth
  • Warm, red and swollen skin over the gland
  • Glands that feel “lumpy”

Causes and Concerns

Soft, tender and moveable swollen glands are typically signs of an inflammation or infection. Lymph nodes that are painless, feel hard to the touch, and resist movement need further examination by a head and neck specialist, as they could be warning signs of more serious conditions. The most common causes of swollen glands include:

  • Bacterial infections including strep throat
  • Infected teeth or mouth sores
  • Viral infections including mononucleosis, also known as "mono"
  • Skin infections
  • Ear infections
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, also known as STDs
  • Cancers like Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia and breast cancer
  • Immunodeficiency conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus and HIV infections
  • Possible side effects from vaccines or other types of medications

Solutions and Options

After the illness has been treated and you feel better overall, your lymph nodes should shrink back to normal. Treatment of your swollen glands tends to be cause-dependent. The following home remedies can prove to be helpful in reducing the pain and discomfort you are experiencing:

  • Non-prescription pain relievers:  Tylenol (acetaminophen), and anti-inflammatory medications like Advil (ibuprofen), reduce the swelling and inflammation. However, do not ever administer aspirin to a child, as there is a significant risk for Reye's syndrome.
  • Warm, wet compresses:  Apply to the affected areas for soothing effect.
  • Rest:  Make sure to get lots of rest, as this helps your body recover from illness.

When to see a Doctor

There are some symptoms and indications that your swollen glands require treatment from a healthcare professional. Additional treatment may be required if swollen glands are accompanied by:

  • A high fever (more than 104 degrees F)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Problems swallowing
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Reddened skin over top of the swollen lymph nodes
  • Large swollen nodes that are very tender, hard to the touch and do not reduce in size

Summary

The majority of cases of swollen glands are no cause for great concern. They usually go away with basic treatment at home. However, the more serious symptoms mentioned above should never be ignored. If you are experiencing persistent or problematic swollen glands, contact our office for an appointment. One of our competent head and neck specialists can offer you a solution and treatment.