An in-depth look at Laryngitis

Recently, American Idol 5's runner up, Katherine McPhee, has been out of the Idols Live! tour due to Laryngitis and bronchitis. While some people accept this report as-is, there are some who claim that she is faking the disease in order to skip out on the tour. Idol management has been very quiet about McPhee, leaving her family to post updates on fansites across the internet. With non-Kat fans furious at reports that McPhee went to a photo shoot, but didn't sing at a concert, rumors have swirled around that the singer is being something of a prima donna, and does not, in fact, have laryngitis. We figured that this would be a good time to take a more in-depth look at Laryngitis. What is it, how can it affect you, what can it do, and what all celebrities have had it? You'll find out the answers to all that, plus more, as Health Watch Investigates.

What is Laryngitis? To begin our search, we went to the semi-reliable Wikipedia to find out. Their summary of the condition said that the condition is an "inflammation of the larynx." According to the site, laryngitis can cause a hoarse voice - or even complete loss of the voice - because the vocal cords become irritated. If the condition only last a couple days, then it is called acute. If it last longer than a few weeks, the condition is then called chronic laryngitis.

Next, on the Mayo Clinic's website, we found out that inflammation of your larynx can be caused by overuse, irritation or infection. Normally, the vocal cords open and close smoothly, forming sounds through movement and vibration. But when the cords become inflamed or irritated, they swell, causing distortion in the sound of one's voice. In some cases of laryngitis, the voice can become so faint that it's almost undetectable.

According to the Clinic, laryngitis is usually caused by a viral infection. A bacterial infection may also be the cause, but that's pretty rare. Acute laryngitis can also occur as a result of another illness, like a cold, the flu or pneumonia. Chronic laryngitis is commonly caused by constant irritation from excessive alcohol, heavy smoking or reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus and throat. Also causes include sores or growths on the vocal cords, loosening of the cords due to aging, and vocal cord paralysis, which can result from injury, stroke or a lung tumor. Laryngitis can also be caused by overusing your voice, by "speaking too much, speaking too loudly, shouting or singing."

We now know more about what laryngitis is, and how it can be caused. But what's the best way to treat it? For these answers we turned to the good folks at WebMD. Interestingly enough, for most types of laryngitis, the most treatment that people require is that they rest their voice and drink plenty of fluids. Sometimes, the doctor might prescribe medications that will help with congestion, to help the nostrils better humidify the air that you breathe in. If you have the reflux disease, the first priority then becomes treating the stomach acid problem. Then, rest your voice. And if symptoms persist, well, you have to talk to your doctor to find out what you should do next. There's one thing that we should make clear: everybody can get laryngitis. Everyone. Including famous celebrities. In 2003, Walter Cronkite was diagnosed with laryngitis. In 2001, radio newsman and commentator Paul Harvey was off the air for a few months due to a laryngitis-type vocal cord problem. Steve Perry, lead singer of the group Journey, also temporarily suffered from laryngitis. Now we've learned that chronic laryngitis would probably be enough to keep McPhee off the tour for a while. But that's not the only condition she's suffering from. She's also suffering from severe bronchitis. Here's what WebMD has to say about this condition:

Bronchitis is a respiratory disease in which the mucous membrane in the lungs' bronchial passages becomes inflamed. As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it narrows or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells accompanied by thick phlegm and breathlessness. The disease comes in two forms: acute (lasting less than 6 weeks) and chronic (reoccurring frequently for more than two years). In addition, people with asthma also experience an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes called asthmatic bronchitis.

Treatment for bronchitis is similar to laryngitis: plenty of fluids, warm air, and plenty of rest. So while those who didn't vote for McPhee in the first place may find it suspicious that she is skipping out on the tour, if she really does have these conditions, it wouldn't be out of place for a doctor to order her to rest some more. As long as she doesn't stress herself out, and doesn't talk, then she can go about her daily life just fine.
Previous Health Watch Articles:
Americans are smoking less
Identifying a stroke

1 comment:

RaptorNine said...

This story bothers me. Laryngitis isn't something to screw around with, especially if you plan on using your voice to make a living as Katharine will.

I think this whole thing is a non-story and is only being reported on because Kat looks good on the cover of a tabloid. You think if Bucky was sick anybody would care?

Katharine's letters to her fans have been very sweet. I'm sure she'll be back as soon as she can but it can't be at the risk of her long-term career. I know that's easy for me to say since I'm not seeing any of the concerts but if her true fans will understand.