Is laryngitis contagious?
The question “Is laryngitis contagious?” is rightfully answered with both yes and no. In different words, depending on what’s causing it, laryngitis may be contagious, but it doesn’t have to be.
The main causes of laryngitis are infections or physical injuries. If yours is caused by a mechanic injuries, such as sports injury, overuse or misuse of your voice – if you have been shouting too much at a football game or if you are a professional singer, or if you are smoker or have stayed too long in a smoky environment, if you drink too much alcohol that has damaged your larynx – then no, this type of laryngitis isn’t contagious, obviously.
The infections are those who can make the laryngitis contagious. Three main types of infections that most often cause laryngitis are viral, bacterial or fungal.
The opinions are different on whether the viral laryngitis is contagious. It is usually associated with a cold or flu and it isn’t treated with antibiotics, but with simple rest, taking in a lot of fluids, and steam inhalations. The symptoms of this type of laryngitis include cough, sore throat, general fatigue, low-grade fever, general body aches, and all of the other common symptoms of cold and flu. Even though viruses are usually inhaled from droplets in the air, produces by someone who is carrying the virus, the viral laryngitis is not contagious by its own, but the cold or flu that are causing it are; so pay attention and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, because you may still pass some germs to the people around you.
Now this type is contagious. It occurs as a result of bacterial infection of the larynx, and you can be sure that you have bacterial laryngitis if it is followed by fever, and probably a serious pain rather than just sore throat, colored nasal discharge, difficulty swallowing, but other symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection may be present as well: facial pressure, headache, earache, ear fullness or swollen glands on the neck. If this is the case, stay home, take the antibiotics that your doctor has prescribed you and try to avoid speaking, as with any other kind of laryngitis. Besides covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, you should also make sure that you wash your hands regularly, because that’s also how it can spread, and probably how you got it.
This type of laryngitis is caused by the “bad” fungal organisms. The most common of them is Candida Albicans, which normally lives in our system, but some circumstances can lead to the overgrowth of this organism. Fungi don’t usually cause infection, but when the body’s immune system is suppressed, they may penetrate the natural blood and tissue barriers causing the infection of larynx and other organs. The symptoms of fungal laryngitis come rather slowly, and are the same as the symptoms of other types: sore throat, cough, hoarseness, ear pain… But it usually can be diagnosed visually, because the typical fungal lesions are visible in the mouth and throat. It is treated by antifungal drugs like nystatin or ketoconozole. Since person-to-person transmission of this type of laryngitis is possible, it is also considered to be contagious, but it requires a physical contact.
How long is laryngitis contagious?
In the cases when laryngitis is contagious, that is with bacterial or fungal types of infection, laryngitis stays contagious for maximum a week, but usually no more than two or three days after the symptoms are gone. In other cases, you are good to go as soon as you can speak normally.