Does your loved one suffer from laryngitis often during this time of year, or all year round? Laryngitis occurs when the voice box (or larynx) gets inflamed. When healthy, the vocal cords open and close easily, forming sounds through movement and vibration. But when your loved one develops laryngitis, his vocal cords become irritated and inflamed. This makes the vocal cords swell, and distorts the sound they make. In addition to the pain and tenderness this creates, your elderly loved one may also have a hoarse voice or be unable to speak at all. This is something your loved one’s in-home care provider may notice happening.
Luckily, there are some steps you and your in-home care team can take to help reduce the risk of your loved one developing laryngitis this winter. While it can occur during any season, winter months see it happening more often because of the exposure to more germs and the dry, forced heat that pervades many homes and businesses.
Let’s look at some steps you and his in-home care aide can take to ensure your loved one doesn’t lose his voice this year.
Buy a humidifier.
At home, one of the best things you can do to help your loved one’s throat stay moist is to buy a small humidifier for each room that he spends the majority of his time in – especially the bedroom. Sleeping and breathing through the mouth all night can irritate the throat and possibly the vocal cords, especially if your loved one is already struggling with a cold. Proper humidifier care is important to ensure mold doesn’t build up so have your in-home care provider clean it thoroughly upon each visit.
Avoid spicy foods and stay hydrated.
Eating too many spicy foods can cause stomach acid to go into the throat or esophagus, which in turn irritates the vocal cords. If your loved one suffers from heartburn often, you might want to eliminate the spices in his diet that trigger the heartburn.
During waking hours, your loved one should drink plenty of fluids. He may not desire a glass of ice water in the cold winter months, but decaffeinated warm tea and coffee can be drunk as well. Adding a bit of honey or ginger to his tea will also help him battle any symptoms he may have already. There are plenty of ways to get lots of fluid throughout the day, it’s just a matter of being intentional about it. Your in-home care provider can help your loved one track his fluid consumption if he finds he’s often forgetting to drink enough.
Don’t smoke or be around smokers and stop clearing his throat
If your loved one smokes, laryngitis is just another good reason to quit. If any of his caregivers smoke, they should not smoke around him or in his home to prevent him from inhaling second-hand smoke.
Clearing the throat causes damage to the vocal cords. It creates an abnormal vibration of the vocal cords and can increase swelling. It also creates a vicious cycle. Clearing the throat also causes the throat to secrete more mucus and feel more irritated, making your loved one feel like he needs to clear his throat again.