|Updated: 4/11/2007 4:45 pm
||Published: 4/11/2007 4:45 pm
When a child's larynx (LARE-eenx) becomes swollen, it's known as laryngitis (lare-inn-JITE-iss). The larynx, also known as the voice box, houses the vocal folds in the upper windpipe. If this area swells, your child may become hoarse or unable to speak until the larynx is no longer inflamed. Laryngitis can be caused by several factors, including allergies, cold, flu, exposure to second-hand smoke or overuse of the voice. Children with laryngitis should be encouraged not to speak, to rest the larynx until it can heal. Nasal passages should be kept clear so that your child can breathe through the nose instead of the mouth. Laryngitis can be extremely painful, so try giving your child warm drinks to ease the discomfort. Steam can also soothe the sore throat. Fill a sink with hot water and let your child lean over it for five minutes with a towel draped over the head to house the steam. At night, use a humidifier. Sometimes children develop croup (KROOP), a more serious illness, which is caused by the same virus that leads to laryngitis in adults. If your child has labored breathing, noisy, gaspy, or whistling breath, or a barking cough, it's a good idea to consult a doctor. Other symptoms of croup include fever and loss of appetite. Blue lips and skin signify a lack of oxygen and require immediate medical attention. Consult a doctor in your area for more information about childhood laryngitis and croup.