Laryngitis and Exercise

Laryngitis is the loss of your voice or hoarseness that occurs when you have swelling or irritation of your larynx, or voice box. Your voice box contains your vocal cords and is located at the top of your trachea, which is the airway to your lungs. Vocal cord swelling can cause the hoarse voice associated with laryngitis. There is no medical indication that you shouldn't exercise with laryngitis or that physical activity helps the condition. Whether you exercise just depends on how you feel.

Man touching his throat (Image: Hlib Shabashnyi/iStock/Getty Images)

Causes and Symptoms

Laryngitis is most commonly caused by a cold or flu virus, which may lessen your motivation to exercise if you don't feel well. The condition can also be caused by allergies, a bacterial infection, bronchitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, injury to your vocal cords, irritating chemicals and pneumonia. Laryngitis can cause fever, hoarseness and swollen glands. Some forms of laryngitis caused by croup or epiglottitis can be dangerous to children because of potential respiratory blockage.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a potential cause of laryngitis. GERD is the more serious and frequent form of gastroesophageal reflux, commonly called acid reflux. In gastroesophageal reflux, stomach contents come up into your esophagus. When acid reflux occurs you may taste a bitter fluid in your throat or get heartburn. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, GERD is persistent acid reflux that occurs three or more times a week. Vigorous and intense exercise and activities that involve bending over and creating abdominal pressure may aggravate GERD, leading to laryngitis and other health problems.

Exercising While Sick

Depending on the symptoms associated with your laryngitis, exercise may or may not be okay. The American College of Sports Medicine advises that exercise is usually fine if your symptoms are above the neck, like nasal congestion and minor throat irritation. The ACSM indicates to refrain from exercise if you have below-the-neck symptoms, like chest congestion and an upset stomach. In addition, don't exercise with fever, numerous body aches and fatigue.

You Make the Decision

If you have a case of laryngitis that is caused by an illness and your symptoms are above your neck, you can make the final decision about whether to exercise. If you are not up to following your normal routine, that is fine. Your body is trying to recover so it may be beneficial to reduce your exercise intensity. For example, go for a walk instead of running.

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